Folk speech
Foodways
Proverbs

You Only Know a Person After You’ve Eaten Through a Whole Sack of Salt with Him

Proverb: Само знаеш човек след като си изял цял чувал сол с него.

Transliteration: Znaesh chovek camo cled kato ci izyal cial chuval ot col c nego.

Literal Translation: You only know a person after you’ve eaten through a whole sack of salt with him.

Meaning: It takes time to really know get to know someone.

Analysis:

I was at home from college for a weekend and I was spending time with my family, which involved mostly listening to my mother gossip about her friends. She began to talk about someone whom we both knew that had turned out to be quite a different person that what we had originally thought. We had misjudged that friend’s character, and while it wasn’t anything too serious or dramatic, my mother shook her head and said a Bulgarian proverb I had never heard before: “cамо знаеш човек след като си изял цял чувал сол с него,” or “you only know a person after you’ve eaten through a whole sack of salt with him.”

Upon seeing my confused face, my mother explained that since one would sprinkle only a little bit of salt on one’s food occasionally, it would take an exceptionally long time to eat through a large sack with someone. However, that amount of time is necessary to truly understand a person’s character, given that personalities and circumstances are quickly liable to change.

Since salt has been a common spice used in Bulgarian salads, dinners, and various meals, there was bound to be at least one proverb using it. I feel that my parents and relatives that live in Buglaria use salt much more than I prefer to do, either because they prefer saltier food or I am more used to the plainer cuisines I eat in California. Whatever the reason and wherever I am, people agree that it is important to know and understand whom one is with.

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