Cooking with plain water


Hello and welcome to Radio Prague’s Czech language series in which you can learn new phrases with the help of song lyrics. Today’s rap song is by Bow Wave and the phrase to listen out for is “umí vařit z vody”.

Photo: Silvia McCabe, www.sxc.huPhoto: Silvia McCabe, Today we’ll look at expressions relating to the manner of creating things, which can be very colourful in Czech.

“Umí vařit z vody” means he knows how to cook something from plain water and refers to the fact that someone has a knack for making something out of nothing. Being able to do that requires plenty of improvisation and the result is never trustworthy. People who find themselves in that situation may say “něco si vycucám z prstu” – I will have to suck my finger for an idea. Or “budu mlžit” – I will create a smokescreen. In this rap song the ability to cook from water is attributed to politicians – who very often blab for hours about nothing.

But, to move onto something more substantial - if you hear someone using the expression “stavět na zelené louce” they are building something from scratch on an empty green meadow –and it does not necessarily refer to construction work. While “stavět na klíč” –to build on a key - means to engage in a turnkey project.

If you hear someone say that they are sowing with a hot needle “šít horkou jehlou” they are saying that they are working in a great hurry to meet a deadline – in other words they are sowing so quickly their needle is hot with the effort. And finally –one can have grandiose plans that will be hard to materialize. People who make unrealistic plans – “staví vzdušné zámky” – they build castles in the air. Hope your own plans are more substantial than that and don’t leave you cooking with plain water. This is Danilela Lazarova saying thanks for learning Czech with me and na shledanou.


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