Merenda, the Italian way to have a snack

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I fear that there’s no proper translation in English for the word merenda, which is one of my favourite in the whole world (not for its sound but rather for its meaning, because I’m a real glutton, more precisely I am a sweet tooth). All I could find in the dictionary was “snack” or “tea break” but I’m not sure that this conveys the idea.

Merenda is a tiny (sometimes not so tiny) meal, usually consisting of sweet snacks, mostly taken by kids (and by me) between lunch and dinner (I so feel like Pippin Took right now… Yes, sometimes I have an Hobbit’s appetite, I must admit). In Italy we say “fare merenda” (whose proper translation is “to have merenda”, but literally it would be “to do merenda”).

When you grow up, it’s sort of a shame to acknowledge that you still do merenda. Not to me, I’m not ashamed at all. I can’t do without it. But, in order not to gain too many pounds, this little meal usually means eating a fruit and a thin slice of wholemeal bread with a cup of tea. But when I really need to treat myself to something special, then merenda means cake.

The word comes from the late Latin verb “merere” (deserve), and means “things you have to deserve”. Therefore only those who deserve it should have it (hard workers, children and young students, in short – sadly – people who consume a lot of calories).

Did you know… An Italian way of saying (a bit obsolete actually) is: “Starci come i cavoli a merenda”, something like “to fit in like cabbages at tea break”, meaning having no relevance to the topic or the context, having nothing to do with it. I find it very funny.

Who’s hungry now after this post? Well, let’s do merenda! 🙂



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