The Hour of Merienda

Serious about happy hour

And not everyone agrees that merienda is a valid meal, anyway. Casa Juancho in Little Havana concerns itself solely with fine dining. So serving merienda isn't practical. The closest you can get, says maitre d' Manuel Vila, is to sit at the bar and have a drink and a tapa. Um, sounds awfully like a merienda.

But Emilio Lopez, owner of Botín in Coral Gables, dismisses the notion completely. "Merienda is only for children, when they have a hot chocolate with some muffins or something like that," he says. "It is for children when they come home from school." Passalacqua acknowledges that in Cuba, merienda is a lunch box, but that the Spanish merienda is something altogether different.

Still, Lopez insists, "It is not useful for older people." As if we needed yet another reason not to grow up.

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