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!