Spain’s Fourth Meal (And it’s not Taco Bell)

13 Feb
Here I am, a Sunday evening, reading food blog after food blog for inspiration and wondering what topic to write about today, when my future mother-in-law knocks on the bedroom door. “Come in” I tell her, hoping she isn’t too upset by the messy room and unmade beds (we’re only here 2 nights…)!

“What’s wrong?” she asks me, “Are you sick?” I explain to her that I am not, in fact, sick, just tired and “working” a bit. “But aren’t you going to have your afternoon snack?!” she asks me, obviously quite concerned. I tell her that I’m still really full from our enormous lunch and not really in the mood to eat anything. “Ok,” she says, still concerned, “but at least come down to drink something warm!” I agree and voila, the inspiration for this post.

The “merienda” or as I translate it, afternoon snack, is like a fourth meal here. I suppose you could also compare it to some cultures’ afternoon tea. Usually people have it between 5:00 and 6:30 in the evening, although being that it’s 7:30 right now (ironically a late dinner time for many Americans) it can be eaten just about any time before dinner.

Typical afternoon snacks can be on the sweet side, such as coffee and a pastry, a yogurt, or fruit, but can also be savory snacks like a small sandwich and soda, or some cheese and serrano ham or chorizo.

I like the idea of an afternoon snack, as it’s another opportunity in one’s day to take a break and eat something! Also, depending on your family’s eating times (which I’ll describe in the near future) there could be 7 or 8 hours between lunch and dinner.

My preferred merienda is a Café con leche and a Pastelito Arabe (different varieties of Moroccan sweets similar to Baklava and made with phyllo dough, nuts, and honey).

When visiting Spain I suggest that you take part in the merienda, instead of being the weird tourists who are asking for dinner at 6:00 in the evening!

As for me, I’m going to go downstairs for a cup of tea so that my suegra doesn’t worry too much!


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6 Responses to “Spain’s Fourth Meal (And it’s not Taco Bell)”

  1. Kaley February 14, 2011 at 10:32 pm #

    Your suegra sounds a lot like mine!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. An Expat’s Guide for Dining Out in Spain « spanishsabores - October 18, 2011

    […] Alcohol is also available in most of them. People usually go in the afternoon for their “merienda” around 5:00-6:30 pm. Montaditos (Mini Sandwiches) are a Perfect Afternoon […]

  2. Baking With Olive Oil? « spanishsabores - October 21, 2011

    […] center comes out completely clean. Let the cake cool and top with powdered sugar. Enjoy for your merienda (afternoon snack) with coffee or tea. Ready for the Oven Adorned with Grapes The grapes sunk to the […]

  3. Spanish Mealtimes: When do Spanish people eat? « spanishsabores - October 24, 2011

    […] Snack (La Merienda): As I explained previously this is like Spain’s “fourth meal”. Usually people have it between 5:00 and 6:30 in the […]

  4. An Expat’s Guide for Dining Out in Spain - November 17, 2011

    […] Alcohol is also available in most of them. People usually go in the afternoon for their “merienda” around 5:00-6:30 pm. Montaditos (Mini Sandwiches) are a Perfect Afternoon […]

  5. Spanish Mealtimes: When do Spanish people eat? - November 17, 2011

    […] Snack (La Merienda): As I explained previously this is like Spain’s “fourth meal”. Usually people have it between 5:00 and 6:30 in the […]

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