Espina: The ‘Pinoy merienda’

Mila C. Espina
·2 min read

THE “merienda” has always been part of our food culture. We have light morning merienda before lunch and a heavy one before dinner. Some observe that some Pinoys eat six times—breakfast, morning snacks, lunch, afternoon merienda, dinner, evening snacks and perhaps, even more.

Native delicacies and international pastries are popular. The lockdown has roused our interest in preparing and selling all sorts of merienda. With fast, home delivery, these sell like ”hotcakes.”

The holidays are the best times to savor delicacies like the puto bumbong, bibingka, dinuguan at puto, kutsinta and pancit luglug of Cafe Laguna. At Eddie’s or Beverly Boutique, is the incomparable apple pie. The torta, ensaymada and cheese bread of Anita’s and Leona’s, the cinnamon rolls of Pan and Pasta, the sikwate and suman with sweet mango of Tablea, are at top of the list. Many others, like the varieties of cocoa beans and pastries of The Chocolate Chamber of Raquel Choa, are in it as well.

People travel as far as Mandaue, Carcar, Argao, Danao or even Liloan, to buy the chicharon, torta, rosquillos or native bibingka. I like American hotcakes, halo-halo, and all types of Angel, mocha and chocolate cakes, with chocolate or mocha icings, as well as homemade fruit and macaroni, or vegetable salads.

Our family loved the puto Biñan and pospas, and my brother Ding learned to cook it. My mother and I loved the waffle and footlong hotdog sandwich at The Brown Derby. In college in Maryknoll and then University of Sto. Tomas, we went to Little Quiapo at UP Diliman for our favorite halo-halo. My brother Larrie and I would go out for wonton soup at Charlie’s in Quiapo after a movie date. The siopao and pancit at Charlie’s and Wanam Restaurant were the choices of my sisters Leda and Ate Lydia. My brothers Larrie’s leche flan and Ding’s burger sandwiches are some of their home specialties (served in Taste of Laguna and the canteen at the University of San Jose-Recoletos).

Our hotels offer sumptuous merienda, like the pastries at the lobby of Marco Polo Plaza Cebu. My friends Cookie Newman, Nelia Neri, Flor Ynclino, Honey Loop, Jimmy Picornell and Chinggay Utzurrum, loved the pudding at Radisson Blu Cebu. The chocolate mania was started by Raquel Choa. It is a special mix, creamy, and comes with chocolate pastries.