To Tell Stories or Tales, literaLly “Raconter des salades”, to tell salads. I tell you why the French use this idiom.
I promise I won’t be “telling you salads” in this blog ! I read a lot, do research and double check everything I write. “To tell salads” means to tell stories, a complex mixture of exaggerated anecdotes or inventions rather than just a harmless lie to fill a gap in a story.
We started seeing mixed salads in the 19° century with assorted fruits or vegetables, bringing together various ingredients that went well together. The word salad used in this expression does not refer to the vegetable lettuce itself – as it does in today’s French – but to the assorted dish, more like the way English speakers think of “salad”. It’s a metaphor: in the same way we put together different ingredients to make a delicious mixed salad, words that might be lies, contradictions, inventions, exaggerations, pathetic excuses are put together to tell a tall tale.