Spanish Saying: El que se pica, ajos come
Language Resources

El que se pica, ajos come

You may have had the opportunity to hear the expression "el que se pica, ajos come". This is something you may have heard during a tense moment before the beginning of an argument. What is certain is that this is a complicated expression as much in its context as its significance.

"El que se pica, ajos come" is a reference to a person who intervenes in a situation because it takes a personal turn and also because they have something to hide. To help us clear up any doubt as to what this saying means, here is a good example: Do you remember in Hamlet when Hamlet presents a play about a noble murdering his brother to his uncle, King Claudius? During the play, Claudius demands that the play be ended because he became uncomfortable due to its similarity with the crime he committed—he murdered his own brother (Hamlet's father). At this moment Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, could have gotten on stage and yelled at his uncle Claudius: "El que se pica, ajos come"!    

Now that we have the context of this expression, what does garlic (ajos) have to do with feelings of guilt and the notion of being offended? Here is where the creativity of the Spanish metaphor becomes apparent: resentment, if it could have a flavor would be penetrating, bothersome and persistent—exactly like garlic!
As far as the verb "Picar" or to chop, we could say that it is referring to one of the variations of the word "pique". This refers to the annoyance caused by a dispute or other similar situation.

We hope that this explanation has helped you. But be careful when you offer this explanation to a friend that isn't using this expression properly since "el que se pica, ajos come".