Little Brothers and sisters are often the recipients of this phrase. Your little sister wants to play with your hair? Tell her to go fry asparagus! Your little brother won’t stop making farting noises while you’re trying to do your homework? Go fry asparagus! Or maybe your friend is teasing you about the latest juicy gossip. Tell him to go fry asparagus! Or, as Spanish-speakers say, ¡Vete a freír espárragos!
But before you all run to the grocery store and whip out the frying pans, what’s it really mean? Go away, or stop bothering me! It’s a rude way of putting it, when somebody is really impatient, and it’s usually used with a friend, family member, or someone close to the speaker.
What do we say? Go jump in a lake!
If I told you to go jump in a lake, you would most likely not take me literally. You would know that I meant to go away, go do something else, stop bothering me. Spanish speakers would take it literally, just as if one of them told me to go fry asparagus, I’d be a bit confused.
So, what’s the comparison? Both of these sayings are completely meaningless and rarely (unless you’re going swimming or cooking a meal) taken seriously. When and why did the Spanish language decide on asparagus? Who knows? Why did we decide on jumping in a lake? Again, who knows? However, both idioms are widely accepted by speakers of their respective languages as something completely apart from their literal meaning.
To me, the most obvious comparison is that both actions are, for the most part, useless- something that’ll take time and get somebody out of the way. Also, they are, again for the most part, not something anybody particularly wants to do. It’s not “go eat some icecream!” Looks like we all think alike, even if we speak differently!