We reminisce with ‘90s kids on the kinds of merienda they grew up on (and oh, how simple life was back then)
Remember when we would head into the park, after school has let out at noon, to enjoy a plastic cup of warm taho while waiting for Mom or yaya? Our white socks would already be brown and gray from running during recess, our bimpos askew, as we let our merienda stain our faces and our white shirts: banana cue, dirty ice cream, pop cola served in a plastic bag.
Food is an integral part of our childhood, and it is the center of any Filipino social gathering. Whether it’s a study session or a birthday, there will always be bowls of chichirya on the table that you and your guests can munch on between meals. And God forbid that anyone should touch a vegetable!
Childhood eating habits in our country are resoundingly unhealthy: preserved food, deepfried, doused in sugar, or hey! Why not all three? Many Filipino children refuse to touch anything else; that simply isn’t how our tastebuds are wired, as we crave the artificial taste of red hotdogs or chicken nuggets that have zero resemblance to chicken whatsoever in taste, texture, and appearance.
Later on in life, in high school, college, or our working years, we eventually realize that there’s something wrong with our diets. Oily skin and weight gain are indications that we can’t continue living on the path of having only corned beef for dinner. It also happens that taste buds get more refined with age: we find that we no longer have an appetite for CuppKeyk and prefer fresh pastries to the prepackaged ones of our youth.
But once in a while, we get hit by a craving that only a trip to the nearest 7-11 or the corner street vendor can satisfy.
This month we reminisce about the salad days when merienda time was the center of our social worlds, and we never could actually fathom eating a salad. We asked some members of the working force their favorite food and food memories as children.