Indolent means lazy, slow or averse to activity. I was reading an article where I read this particular usage. The sentence is

Bicol Express is another classic, pork grown indolent in coconut milk and needled by chiles.

What does grown indolent mean here? My interpretation is that pork is grown slowly in coconut milk. Then another question is why the writer has used grown instead of cooked, marinated any other word? Does grown indolent has any specific meaning?

Some other sentences mentioning the same words :

He has grown indolent because, from this perspective, imagination seems pointless; any pain that is to be suffered and any defense against that pain lie within the actual self.

Her brain had not grown indolent, whatever her outward demeanor.

  • 2
    My best guess is that grown indolent is a very poor translation of (or metaphor for) slow-cooked. However, since neddled isn't a word, I'm skeptical about the author of the sentence in the first place. (Even if neddled is a just typo for needled, that is a strange metaphor.) May 26, 2020 at 4:00
  • Google search shows the quote is from a New York Times food critic's article. I think the author is reaching for picturesque writing. It is "needled". I think "grown indolent" means "having become lazy," (or passive). May 26, 2020 at 6:15
  • We can use the verb "grow" to mean 'become'. 'grown indolent' means 'become lazy'. May 26, 2020 at 6:17

2 Answers 2


As has already been mentioned in comments, this is not a common or idiomatic expression - it is an example of creative writing. The reader is meant to think about the meaning of the words chosen.

"Grown indolent" literally means that someone has become lazy over time. It suggests a long period of laziness, lounging around, procrastinating. In the context of this dish of food, I believe it is meant to convey the idea that the meat is lying in the coconut milk. In fact, when meat is served atop something else we often call the food that it is on "a bed", for example "a bed of rice", so perhaps the writer is trying to take that idea a step further.

  • I don't get the "chillies sticking out like needles" imagery. To needle is to provoke into action (that's already a metaphor, you don't literally use needles to needle), so the idolent pork (with a lazy taste) is make more lively by the addition of a hot spice. Its a two level metaphor,
    – James K
    May 26, 2020 at 9:08
  • @JamesK that's just one definition of "needled". Another dictionary definition is "prick or pierce with or as if with a needle". I like the idea of your two-level metaphor, but that would be a contrast, and this sentence uses "and" to link the two ideas. You can't be lazy and motivated.
    – Astralbee
    May 26, 2020 at 9:38
  • Lumps of meat are sometimes 'larded' with such things as pieces of lard (hence the name) slices of garlic, cloves, etc, to improve texture or add flavour during cooking, This can be done using a larding needle to make holes in the meat, into which the items are inserted. I imagine the chillies (chilis) are introduced into the meat in this way. May 26, 2020 at 12:33
  • You can find images of bicol express on the 'net. It is diced pork in a white (coconut) sauce with finely chopped chilli.
    – James K
    May 26, 2020 at 14:16

Its a metaphor, created by this author. It's common for journalists to make their writing more lively by inventing metaphors and using imagery

Coconut milk is creamy and sweet, giving a (metaphorically) lazy taste. "to needle", on the other hand, means "to provoke" into action (that's already a metaphor, you don't literally use needles to needle), so the indolent pork (with a lazy taste) is made more lively by the addition of a hot spice. Its a two-level metaphor.

The style here is "fancy". I feel this is a journalist showing off their ability to create new metaphors.

  • As said by astral bee your prespective is also good but how can creamy and sweet be lazy(metaphorically)? May 26, 2020 at 16:48
  • That seems a natural enough association to me. Sour and spicy flavours are "lively". Sweet and creamy flavours are "lazy".
    – James K
    May 26, 2020 at 21:30

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