I·ATE Food Term of the Week: Asado

December 8, 2018 10:30 am

The Spanish word ‘asado’ refers to the entirety of the meal: from cooking the dish right up to the moment of sharing it. The word ‘asar’ in Spanish comes from arsus, the participle of ardeo ‘arder, quemar’. It refers to cooking either vegetables or meat, and it’s very popular dish in several Spanish speaking countries, especially in South America and Mexico. It may also be referred to as ‘parrillada’.

Even though its origin remains unknown, Argentinians have adopted it as their own. Cooking it is an art and the way it is cooked varies from country to country. Typically, the most common method is grilling. However, in Patagonia, patagonia roast lamb is preferred[1].


The asador puts some salt in the meat some hours before starting the fire. This meat is usually beef, but it could also be pork or fish. Putting on the fire is a key component to creating this dish, and the taste of the meat will depend mostly from the type of fire that has been set. For example, in Argentina the fire is started using some firewood, adding afterwards paper.

To be invited to an asado is an opportunity to gather with your family and friends and to have a great time. People usually cook this on Sundays when they do not have to worry about work, as the meal can take several hours to prepare.

But that doesn’t mean there is a rush to cook it, the asador enjoys doing it. Guests arrive when the asador has already set the fire but the meat is not ready yet. This has a purpose in itself, usually to eat some picada (maybe empanadas) before the first meal, the asado, and to have some drinks while enjoying good company. It is a very special moment, as you have the smell of the meat that is being cooked, the anticipation of knowing that it is going to be an excellent meal, and even more important than this, it’s a chance to reunite with people you love. This dish can be eaten alongside wine and salads. An asado also means staying hours after the meal is finished, usually to eat dessert with mate.

[1] The position of cooking a patagonian lamb is vertical. The everyday way of cooking “asado” today has changed. It is mostly done horizontally.






Written by Noelia Soledad Pavin – Terminology Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg). She holds a Master Degree in Lexicology, Multilingual Terminology and Translation from the University Lumière Lyon II, France.


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