THE MUNCHIES

We rem­i­nisce with ‘90s kids on the kinds of me­rienda they grew up on (and oh, how sim­ple life was back then)

Scout - - INSIDE SCOUT - BY BEA OS­MEÑA PHO­TOS BY ARCHIE CAYA­MANDA

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.

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