Merienda Duos for Any Time of the Day
By Kathy S. Molina
Filipino snacks are consumed at any time of the day. And may it be in the morning, afternoon or nighttime, our snacks or Merienda can (and will) be paired with almost anything our taste buds find deliciously edible. Here are three Merienda duos that are both delicious and, yes, edible (Trust me on this).
Milk and Cookies haven’t seen nothing yet!
As a kid, I hated afternoon naps because it meant missing my favorite cable TV show (Nickelodeon will always be a part of my childhood). But as a rule in our very Filipino household, it had to be done. As much as I disliked forcing myself to sleep during the daytime, I do not regret this seemingly agonizing chore.
After an hour or so of dozing off, my siblings and I would wake up feeling fresh and beaming with delight as we hear the clinking of plates and utensils being prepared in our kitchen. Afternoon naps meant waking up to Merienda Time! And all at once, that nap would be worth all the sleep in the world.
We only needed two things: Buttered Toast and a glass of Soda (I know… But wait, it gets better).
We would relieve this bottle of soda, popping open its stored energy for us to consume – all those bubbles and fizz jumping up and down from the surface of the glass, sometimes striking our childish faces, as we poured its contents with much excitement. A big plate of Buttered Toast would be served for all of us to share. White bread smothered in butter and sugar, toasted to a crunch! Now, this Soda-Toast duo is not a duo for nothing. The toast was just too crunchy for our baby teeth and the soda seemed to be getting a tad bit lonely. Combining the two together made all the sense! We dunked the Buttered Toast in the glass of Soda which jolted their sugars together in merriment. I tell you, nothing is more refreshing than sinking my teeth into a piece of Buttered Toast that is soggy on the outside – cold and a lot sweeter from its Soda bath – and still very much toasty on the inside. We would gobble up our Merienda, chug the Soda that was left in our glasses and forget that Nickelodeon ever existed.
Old School Chips and Dip
In a Filipino home, the hospitality that welcomes you is no longer a surprise. Serving snacks would be common practice when having guests over. This hospitality should respectfully be returned by accepting whatever it is they offer on the table (yes, you don’t really have a choice).
One afternoon, I was over at my friend’s house to work on a school project. A few minutes after arriving, we were served a tray of snacks: packs of Skyflakes and a bowl of what looked like yellowish yogurt. There were about five packs of crackers and just this one bowl of…something, and so I wondered what it was – some kind of dip, maybe, or perhaps, a spread (but it didn’t seem thick enough to be one). I casually continued to work on our project, not wanting to eat really. My friend then pushed the tray and insisted I eat (the persistence of Filipinos to feed their guests is also not a surprise). Not wanting to seem rude or ignorant at the same time, I asked what was in the bowl and hurriedly got the glass of juice and took a nervous gulp. My friend then exclaimed, “Condensed milk!” – “Ohhhhh!” I said in my yes-I’ve-tried-this-before-and-I-know-what-that-is-can’t-you-tell tone. She pushed the tray towards me again, while taking a pack of crackers for herself. I got a pack and pretended to have a hard time opening it (but it was really just to buy me some time – maybe an hour or two for when my mom would have to come pick me up already). My friend casually took a piece of cracker and dipped it in the milk. I took a piece from my pack and decided to take her lead. I’m really not fond of milk so I decided to just pretend. I slowly moved my cracker close to the surface of the condensed milk and it was like the universe decided to punish me when more than half the cracker fell into the bowl, not knowing that my cracker was actually cracked! “Whoops!” I said nonchalantly. I had no way out. I scooped up my now drenched-with-milk cracker and allowed the thick milk to drip from it. And like the most dreaded medicine, I put it in my mouth and chewed as fast I could. And as I chewed the cracker, soaked in condensed milk, my eyes lit up in satisfaction. It was a dessert-like treat: sweet and creamy, leaving me happily satisfied. It was the right amount of saturation for an after-school activity.
After an hour or so of condensed milk, crackers and school work, I understood why 5 packs of crackers were served for only two people.
Rice pudding? Not exactly.
Back when I was in grade school, getting up in the morning was as taxing for me as it was for my mother who did indescribable things to get me out of bed – from spraying water on my face to pulling on the mattress (yes, the mattress, not the blanket). Eventually, I gave in – brushed my teeth, took a shower, got dressed and joined my family, sitting around our kitchen table with my eyes still half shut. Breakfast is what would start the day and rice was always involved – it’s one of those unspoken rules: A full meal consists of rice, and a full meal for breakfast is a must. I never had the energy or appetite for a full meal in the morning, until one day, my mother poured a cup of hot coffee all over my plate of rice! – No, this was no accident. She deliberately soaked my rice in brewed coffee already mixed with milk and sugar. Again, my eyes were half shut, my consciousness was still useless and so when she mumbled something (which was apparently “Careful, it’s hot.”), I had no idea I was about to feed myself coffee soup with rice – HOT coffee soup with rice. That is what will get your kid up and about! Pouring coffee on rice became a morning habit before going to school. Breakfast, eventually, became something to look forward to and something to have an appetite for. My mother’s indescribable knack had won once again! Rice mixed in coffee is definitely the right kind of energy to kick start the day!
Note: Giving your child coffee may or may not push them into coffee addiction (I am very much aware that my heart is probably pumping caffeine through my veins, but I regret nothing!)