The word "merienda" means "snack" (I think) - at least that's what it has always meant to me growing up in Cebu City, Philippines. In the afternoon, just when the midday heat subsides, one sees this dish, "binignit" in Cebuano and "ginataan" in Tagalog, gracing the laps of kids, young and old. It was too hot to sit inside so most of the time, you enjoyed this snack, or other kinds of Filipino snacks outdoors where the breeze was cool.
This dish comes to mind because just the other day, our neighbors in the front house made some and offered Leo and I one bowl each. Thank goodness, only one bowl, because if I had ended up making it, I'd have sat down and eaten the whole pot!
...Which is one reason why I don't make this. It's my favorite. But for those of you who would like to give it a try, here's one way to make it.
You will need:
1 12-oz package rice flour
6 C water
4 C coconut milk
2 plantain bananas, or saba bananas, cubed
4 small sweet potatoes, cubed
2 C cooked tapioca balls
1 C sugar or to taste
To make the dough balls, moisten the rice flour with water just until it sticks together. Roll the dough into 1/4 inch balls and set aside.
Boil 6 cups water and when it boils, gently drop the dough balls and stir occasionally so don't stick together. Make sure they don't stick to the bottom of the pot, too. Cook until they're tender or when they rise to the top. At this time, the water should be slightly thickened.
Add the coconut milk and simmer, do not boil. Add about 3/4 c sugar, and let it simmer. Add the sweet potatoes and bananas and cook until they are tender.
Add the tapioca pearls and add more sugar if desired.