Italians love their food idioms, so much so that even the humble broth (brodo) has made its way into an everyday expression!
Tutto fa brodo literally translates to “everything makes broth“. Just as any kind of vegetable or meat can become broth when boiled, any contribution to a goal or cause, no matter how small, can hold value and be helpful. The closest English expression is “every little bit helps”.
Tutto fa brodo
Every little bit helps
According to Cerreto, this well-known proverb emerged in the Middle Ages when broth was a staple. It was made by boiling anything edible that peasants could find in a pot with water. There was no fixed recipe, and it was far from being considered of high quality, but it did the job of providing sustenance for many poor peasant families.
In the modern day, tutto fa brodo essentially means “everything can come in handy” or as we’d say in more idiomatic English, “every little bit helps“. This is particularly true in situations where resources are limited, and the objective at hand isn’t of paramount importance. Here, the emphasis lies not on the quality of the outcome, but rather on the quantity or the mere accomplishment of it.
Ti do i €5 allora? – Beh, sì, tutto fa brodo a questo punto.
Shall I give you the €5 then? – Sure, why not, every little bit helps at this point.
Heather Broster is a graduate with honours in linguistics from the University of Western Ontario. She is an aspiring polyglot, proficient in English and Italian, as well as Japanese, Welsh, and French to varying degrees of fluency. Originally from Toronto, Heather has resided in various countries, notably Italy for a period of six years. Her primary focus lies in the fields of language acquisition, education, and bilingual instruction.