I've looked in the Real Academia Española dictionary and I can't find any information regarding why Spanish uses the preposition a for cooking styles, and I've noticed French and Italian do it too. I know that the languages use the word, but I don't understand how in a broad sense outside of cuisine.

  • fajitas a la parilla (Spanish)

  • mojo al ajo (Spanish)

  • escargots à la bourguignonne (French)

  • spaghetti alla carbonara (Italian)

In what sense is the a being used here?

  • I'm not sure if this is on-topic here. If you ask the same question on the Spanish site, for example, the answer will apply to all romance languages. Besides, this question is more about language use than linguistics per se. Jun 13, 2014 at 15:40
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    It's not "a", it's "a la", "al", "à la", "alla". These are all preposition + definite particle differing only by language and gender. Jun 15, 2014 at 1:26
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    @hippietrail, do you mean "article"? Add number to the list, e.g. "spaghetti aux moules".
    – dainichi
    Jun 16, 2014 at 0:32
  • @dainichi: Yes sorry, I made a typo I now can't fix \-: Jun 16, 2014 at 0:34

1 Answer 1


In French, dishes "à la" stands for "à la façon de" which you could translate as "in the style of". So, "à la bourguignonne" means as it's done in that area of France.

Same idea for the other languages.

But sometimes the words "à la", "au", or "aux" point to some ingredients. For example: in "Courgettes farcies au saumon", the last part indicates that salmon is stuffed into the zucchinis.

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    "à la" does indeed mean "à la façon de", but "au", or "aux" refer to ingredients or accompaniments. These are two entirely different constructions.
    – fdb
    Aug 10, 2014 at 22:46
  • Very true fdb. I have edited the first part of my answer to reflect your remark. The second part stands as one can say "lapin à la moutarde".
    – allesklar
    Aug 11, 2014 at 7:04

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