Take From Life with the Small Spoon, not with the Ladle

Proverb: “Греби от зивота с малката лажичка, а не с черпака”

Transliteration: Grebi ot zivota c malkata lazichka, a ne c cherpaka.

Literal translation: Take from life with the small spoon, not with the ladle.

Meaning: Don’t do so much at once that you can’t enjoy the sweetness of life.


This is a Bulgarian proverb I heard from my mother when I went home for one weekend. She said it to me when we were talking about my college life and I was feeling overwhelmed by all the meetings, classes, and work I had to do. She encouraged me to slow down and perhaps limit my activities so I could better enjoy my time in college, and as we were speaking in Bulgarian, she mentioned this proverb.

I asked her more about it, and she said it was related to “бяло сладко,” (byalo cladko) or “white sweets”, which is a small dessert served in delicate plates or saucers alongside an appropriately sized spoon and a glass of water, to offset the sugary taste. Since the spoon is very small, only miniature bites can be taken of the sweet, but that way it lasts longer and one can relish the dessert much better than they could if they ate the sweet all at once. “White sweets” is a traditional Bulgarian dessert, so it naturally lends itself to folk sayings.

My mother also mentioned that there was another similar saying: “шоколада се яде по малко” (shokolada ce yade po malko), meaning “you eat chocolate only little by little.” Beyond this phrase serving as a dietary suggestion, it again indicates that life should be appreciated in small bites and small moments. One should not guzzle down all the desserts or become greedy in getting too much of a good thing. Additionally, as Bulgaria has been mostly agrarian and many people have been relatively impoverished, they would naturally value small enjoyments and appreciating the simple things in life. Both these proverbs reflect that state of mind. They also gave me a craving for a sugary or chocolaty dessert, which I indulged in, and most importantly, it relieved some of my stress from my classes.