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Today I found this sentence in one of the reading materials of my Japanese book:

のみこむのに苦労【くろう】した日本語【にほんご】は、佃煮【つくだに】にするほどあった。

According to the book explanation ほど is being used here to adduce an extreme example to metaphorically indicate the degree or severity of something. In this sentence, as I understand it, the writer is using 佃煮【つくだに】 (which I understand has a strong flavor) to indicate how hard it was to assimilate Japanese language.

However I'm not sure if I got it right, I cannot quite explain or translate the sentence. I tried to look for other examples of the grammatical pattern on Internet but I couldn't find anything that could clarify the meaning of the sentence, I also looked at Wikipedia article for 佃煮【つくだに】 and I think the strong flavor of the food is the key here.

Could someone explain me the sentence, and if it isn't too much to ask give me an approximate translation.

Thanks.

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The "large amount" is the key here, and the flavor of 佃煮 is not important. 佃煮 is a kind of preservative food, and it is made when we have too much food.

So "佃煮にするほどあった" here means "there were too many (Japanese expressions) which I couldn't digest/handle for now".

But this idiom is rare. The more common ways to metaphorically say "there are too many something (which are not particularly important)", are 「○○は星の数ほどある」, 「○○は掃いて捨てるほどある」, 「○○は腐るほどある」 etc.

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