Well well, you learn something new every day.
I had always thought “fine words butter no parsnips” had some sort of culinary origin to do with how you have to actually do the work and not just talk about it. But little did I know until I did some serious research hit Google that the verse the phrase probably originates from talked about buttering fish along with parsnips – and one of the earlier similar sayings was also about fish.
Somewhere along the way, the fish got left out. Poor fish, I say.
And who knows what foreigners make of such a phrase.