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Tips & Techniques

Small Meals from Latin America

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That moment when the kids come home from school, and adults are out from work, is the perfect time to gather around the table and share a light meal. In Latin America, these meals are called meriendas, lonche, once or simply alguito, "a little something." Here's a glance at these fun Latin American mealtime customs.
La Leche from Argentina

La Leche from Argentina

In Argentina, la leche is a light meal taken after 5 p.m., which includes facturas (flaky pastries) and medialunas (croissants). The meal also includes cold cuts like salami, boiled ham and more.


PEPPERONI PIZZA Hot Pockets, filled with low-fat mozzarella and pepperoni, are a yummy, quick complement to your merienda.

Peruvian Lonche

Peruvian Lonche

In Peru, lonche is like breakfast in the afternoon—as it includes the same items as the morning meal. Coffee, tea and milk are served with classic buttered bread, marmalade, avocado, cheeses, ham and/or pastries. During the holidays, panettone and hot chocolate are a must on the table.


Pamper yourself at lonche time with these delicious, alfajores.

The Chilean Once

The Chilean Once

There are many theories as to why Chileans call tea time "once," which means "11" in Spanish. Some say the name refers to British elevenses, a light meal consisting of tea and biscuits. Others say the number was a code to camouflage the Spanish word for moonshine, aguardiente, which has 11 letters. All history aside, have yourself an once, Chilean style! 

Here is a delicious recipe idea made with La Lechera Dulce de Leche. 

Colombia's Alguito

Colombia's Alguito

The alguito is the snack that gets us to dinner without hunger pangs. It is typical of the western Colombian region of Antioquía. Coffee or hot chocolate are accompanied with rolls, arepas, or yucca bread, depending on the region. 

Try our Honduran Yucca Cake with Sweet Milk Sauce recipe and pair it with a warm cup of Nescafe Clasico. 

The Mexican Merienda

The Mexican Merienda

The typical Mexican merienda is made up of a cup of hot chocolate or atole (cornmeal drink), and sweets like pound cake, cookies or cupcakes.


Find more ideas for this tasty meal in our Traditions of Merienda section.