“The key to the stomach is a bite” – Arabic Proverb

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Jordanian
Age: 41
Occupation: Accounting Manager
Residence: Yorba Linda
Date of Performance/Collection: 5/3/2021
Primary Language: Arabic
Other Language(s): English, French

Context:

She learned it from her grandma when she was a kid in Jordan. When her grandma offered her food, and she said that she has no appetite, her grandma would say “Muftah el button lo’meh” as a way to get her to eat a bite to increase her appetite.

Text:

Original Script: مفتاح البطن لقمة

Transliteration: Muftah el button lo’meh

Literal Translation: Key to the stomach is a bite

Smooth Translation: The key to the stomach is a bite

Thoughts:

I found it strange that there would be a proverb used to convince someone to eat–usually, the problem is getting someone to stop eating. My family has told me this proverb a few times too when I said I was not hungry, and usually a bite did make me hungry. It wasn’t until this week that I realized that this proverb, from the times I have heard it used, is used when the rest of the family is eating. This proverb is not said to give advice, but to protect the Arabic tradition of eating together as a family.