From "The Da Vinci Code":

Langdon looked amused. "I would have thought you'd import an English staff?"

"Good heavens, no! I would not wish a British chef on anyone except the French tax collectors."

I cannot figure out the last sentence's meaning, especially for the preposition "on". Does he want to say he didn't want any British chef that has a higher rank than anyone except the French tax collectors? If so, I sense "above" maybe better. Moreover, the possible explanation I have just guessed doesn't make much sense to me.


To wish X on Y means to wish that Y (usually somebody disliked) may be afflicted with X (always something unpleasant). The phrase is in my experience used only in the negative, usually with the sense that X is so unpleasant that even Y doesn't deserve it:

I wouldn't wish that haircut on my worst enemy.
Much as I detest Everett's self-satisfied pomposity, I would not wish a review like that on him.

In this case, the implication is slightly different: British cooking is so bad that nobody except French tax collectors are loathsome enough to deserve having to eat it.

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