The Notebooks
by Josée Fiset

Inspire Cook Share Biography
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Have You Ever Wondered...

…there’s a saying in French, avoir du pain sur la planche, which means having a lot of work to do?

If you’re not sure what bread has to do with work, you’re not alone. Until the early 20th century, the expression actually meant the opposite! At that time, when bread kept a long time, it wasn’t unusual to have several loaves or slices left over on a storage board, and having literally a lot of bread on your board suggested that you had enough resources for the foreseeable future. So you could rest on your laurels a little, as they say. The original meaning of the expression faded as those long-lasting loaves of yore gave way to bread baked fresh daily at the bakery. The allusion to a pyramid of kneaded and floured dough piled high on a board, each loaf awaiting the oven, explains the reference to the hard work of a baker, who must be up at the crack of dawn each day. In any case, when there is bread on that proverbial board, you’d better not have un poil dans la main – another French idiom, but used more in Europe, which means being as lazy as someone who uses their hands so little that a hair could grow there, without ever being troubled by manual labour.


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