Wishing a Nice Meal (in Five Languages)

Written by Azat MardanJanuary 12, 2020

In English, to wish someone a nice and tasty meal is said with “enjoy your meal”. I never liked this phrase because it sounds like a command—enjoy! And if you don’t obey my command then there will be repercussions. Of course, it’s silly to think of this phrase this way but still the “enjoy your meal” phrase sounds too harsh and not elegant. Maybe people try to remind each other that they should enjoy their food instead of gulping fast food on the go or chowing down a salad while browsing Facebook and answering emails?

Maybe that’s why a lot of English-speaking Americans prefer the French “bon appétit”. It literally means good appetite but implies I wish you a nice appetite. I use it sometimes but if I think about it more then why would I want to wish someone a good appetite? Maybe they are on a diet of some sort and actually try to eat less, not more? Maybe I should wish them that they have a less of an appetite?

The Russian phrase “приятного аппетита” just mimics the French phrase so nothings new here. French and Russian cultures often share a lot of similarities.

I really like the Spanish phrase “buen provecho”. It literally translates into make sure you’re taking a good benefit (of the food). The translation is clumsy because there’s no direct analog in English to the Spanish verb provechar. I really like this verb. It means take advantage or take benefit. In English it’s a phrase of at least two words but in Spanish you can say in one word. Usually Spanish is more compact than English.

Funny enough, ever time I hear buen provecho I remember a car sale commercial ad on radio that talked about taking advantage of some sale. :) So sometimes, in the USA I say buen provecho to English speaking Americans. If the French phrase is common in the USA, why not make the Spanish phrase popular too. Maybe we can even import the verb provechar into English language?!

Lastly, in Tatar one of the phrases “ашыгыз тәмле булсын” or just “тәмле булсын” which means wishing that your food will be tasty. I think that’s the best phrase. The bonus that it won’t lead to over eating either. You can enjoy the tasty food but stop when you’re full (no need for a big appetite).

PS: Next time you wish “enjoy my meal” or “have a safe travel” just think about it. It sounds like I typically don’t enjoy my food or try to go on adventures and put myself in danger but this time I’ll have to be extra joyful and safe.