Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

merenda (also merienda) an Italian and a Spanish word with similar but not identical meanings. The Latin root is merenda, a collation—possibly a lunch, perhaps something later. The future emperor Marcus Aurelius describes a merenda during vintage-time in a letter to his tutor Marcus Cornelius Fronto. All he had was a scrap of bread (he was a Stoic), but his fellow-workers tucked in to beans, onions, and herring. (In medieval English word lists, the usual translation of the Latin merenda is noonmeat.) It is one of those inbetween meals such as elevenses and afternoon tea (but not high tea). The word appears in several versions round the Mediterranean and in countries where Spanish influence has been significant. The Croats have marenda (often a mid-morning snack), the Catalans (especially on Majorca) bereneta or berenada, the Portuguese say merenda, the Argentines and Uruguyans merienda, and in the Philippines, merienda also.