Merienda is taken from the Spanish, and is a light meal or snack especially in the afternoon, similar to the concept of afternoon tea. 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 kapé, which is the Filipino pronunciation of café (coffee): breads and pastries like pandesal, ensaymada (buttery brioche covered in grated cheese and sugar), hopia (pastries similar to mooncakes filled with mung bean paste) and empanada (savoury, meat-filled pasties). Also popular are kakanín, or traditional pastries made from sticky rice like kutsintâ, sapin-sapin (multicoloured, layered pastry), palitaw, bikò, suman, bibingka, and pitsi-pitsî (served with desiccated coconut).
Savoury 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-flavoured soy sauce and vinegar dressing), and dinuguan (a spicy stew made of pork blood), which is often served with puto (steamed rice flour cakes).
Dim sum and dumplings, brought to the islands by Fujianese migrants, have been given a Filipino touch and are also popular merienda fare. Street food, such as squid balls and fish balls, are often skewered on bamboo sticks and consumed with soy sauce and the sour juice of the calamondin as condiments.
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