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Thick as thieves in Europe

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Tower of BabelCulture

It's better to proverbially be 'like ass and shirt' ('comme cul et chemise') in France than to be 'getting on like a house on fire', like they say in England and Germany - surely? Touring Europe's round of expressions to denote the most inseparable of friends

The Brits would say we're thick as thieves, but we're French, so we are larrons en foire (funfair thieves). Like ass and shirt (comme cul et chemise), we leave France. Over the Pyrenees mountain range, we've barely arrived in Spain when we realise that the best way to a friend's heart is through their stomach, as it were: hacer buenas migas (to do good fried leftover bread/ tortilla dish), or get on well with someone. And friendship in Spain is not just denoted by having a hearty meal – Iberian bosom buddies are often a partir un piñon – ready to share even the smallest kennel. Tight as pigs (copains comme cochons), we continue the culinary adventure to the Abruzzo region of Italy where good friends often eat a kilo of salt together (hanno mangiato un chilo di sale insieme), according to the regional saying.

As we make our way to Germany, someone tells us voi siete come Gianni e Pinotto (you're like Gianni and Pinotto!) The Italians compare good friends to the sixties cartoon character duo, which is also the name given to the legendary forties-era American comedians Abbott and Costello in Italy.

The German duo equivalent is Bud Spencer and Terrence Hill, an inseparable cop duo from the Spanish-German telefilm Zwei wie Pech und Schwefel (like pitch and brimstone) in German. The Polish version come from the pre-war world of the television show The Elderly Gentlemen's Cabaret (Kabaret Starszych Panów), Jeremi Przybora and Jerzy Wasowski, where they sang an aristocratic-style tribute to friendship. Joined at the hip, we'll eventually make for Poland, like brothers (są jak bracia).

Image: main ©crosathorian/ Flickr; videos: Gianni and Pinotto Giacomo GD and the Polish duo moodrabilla/ both via Youtube

Story by

Matthieu Amaré

Je viens du sud de la France. J'aime les traditions. Mon père a été traumatisé par Séville 82 contre les Allemands au foot. J'ai du mal avec les Anglais au rugby. J'adore le jambon-beurre. Je n'ai jamais fait Erasmus. Autant vous dire que c'était mal barré. Et pourtant, je suis rédacteur en chef du meilleur magazine sur l'Europe du monde.

Translated from Etre « cul et chemise » en Europe