Merienda means mid day snack. It is usually consumed between lunch and dinner . The pilipino version of merienda food can be as simple as pandisal (salt bread) and hot chocolate or coffee and can be a smagosbord of native cakes and noodle dishes. It all depends on how much money you want to spend and how hungry you are. In the past 2 decades, new creations of the so called merienda food came about, due partly to the economic condition of our country and pilipino ingenuity. Parts of chickens and fish that would normally go to waste are now comouflage to look like something else. Street hawkers sell this types of merienda along with the traditional ones .These vendors can be on foot, on a portable cart equiped with makeshift fryer, in a bicycle with storage compartments, sitting in front of there homes or established in the food section of the wet markets. This sort of merchandising is designed for office workers,shoppers,travelers in buses and cars. There is no escape, eating is a favorite past time of the pilipinos and food is made available to the consumers at all points. Of course if you wish to seat and enjoy a nice merienda meal there are many restaurants that are open to serve you day and night.
On one of my visits to the Philippines, I asked my friend Bing Crisologo,who have numerous connections in Dagupan City to take me to a place where kakanin (rice cakes) are prepared commerically. We went to the place at 12AM to see the initial preparation and continue on till the crack of dawn to observe the final cooking and packaging of the kakanin. There was the bibingkang galapong, nilupak, suman sa lihya, cassava cake, ube, kalamay,leche flan,banana que,camote que, putobong, barbeque chicken and pork etc. The preparation is labor intensive. Were it not for my friends influence, I would have never been allowed to observe this secret preparation.
Next, we hired a pastry chef to tutor me on how philippine pastries are made. Everything is so secretive, and all the recipes he brought were numbered with no names. We made siopao, hopia,brazo de mercedes,sans rival, fruit of the Gods,pandisal etc. All of which I will share with you.
My last food adventure was to see the street hawkers hawk there wares in the street. We went to the different sections of Manila, near universities ( UP.FEU,UST,UE,MCU etc) offices, wet markets and shopping centers, there I saw the street hawkers in action, and what a scene. Chicken intestines in skewers,called ” Isaw”, Bugok or duck egg that did not get fertilize is made into pancakes, called Apnoy, battered and fried day old male chicks called Big O is a favorite merienda for jeepney drivers. In the stand are several sauces that you could dip the chick. It is a popular pulutan for beer drinkers and many more.
Because the street hawkers merienda food is now part of the pilipino cuisine, I will include a section in my book : Street Hawkers
The rest of the book will be a collection of traditional merienda recipes using available ingredients and kitchen tools in the United States. These recipes are native to the philippines,others are foreign recipes that had been adopted to fit the Pilipino taste buds,such as tamale, Bringue (an adoptation of Paella). Except for Puto bungbong where a specially made vessel is used to steam the puto, the rest of the recipes can be prepared using simple kitchen utensils.
Pilipino immigrants to the US continue to hanker for Pilipino food ,spawning numerous pilipino food stores and restaurants in the metropolitan areas of the United States where many Pilipino resides.
This recipes are designed for second generation pilipinos in the US , who wants to go back to there roots and learn to prepare authentic pilipino dishes.
Until then, visit my blog for delicious merienda recipes.