Merienda is taken from the Spanish and is a light meal or snack especially in the afternoon, similar to the concept of afternoon tea. At merienda time, usually four in the afternoon and sometimes also around ten in the morning, the average Filipino takes his traditional snack. Foods served at merienda can be almost anything. If the meal is taken close to dinner, it is called merienda cena, and may be served instead of dinner.
Filipinos have a number of options to take with their traditional kape (coffee): breads and pastries like pandesal, ensaymada (buttery sweet rolls covered with cheese), hopia (pastries similar to mooncakes filled with sweet bean paste) and empanada (savory pastries stuffed with meat). There's also the option of cakes made with sticky rice (kakanin) like kutsinta, sapin-sapin, palitaw, biko, suman, bibingka, and pitsi-pitsi.
Savory dishes often eaten during merienda include pancit canton (stir-fried noodles), palabok (rice noodles with a shrimp-based sauce), tokwa't baboy (fried tofu with boiled pork ears in a garlic-flavored soy sauce and vinegar sauce), puto (steamed rice flour cakes), and dinuguan (a spicy stew made with pork blood).
Dim sum and dumplings brought over by the Fujianese people have been given a Filipino touch and are often eaten for merienda. Street foods, most of which are skewered on bamboo sticks, such as squid balls, fish balls, and others are common choices too.
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