Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sweet Cat's Tongue for Merienda

I bought myself a container of lengua de gato-- those small, crumbly, buttery cookies that are a favourite of mine-- and it got me wondering what the name literally means. Well, for those who wondered the same, here's my small list of Spanish-named Filipino snacks and desserts and their literal meaning. Some are straightforward, others quite imaginative. Do tell me what I missed.

barquillos = rolled wafers
brazo de mercedes = arm of favours/gifts (so it has nothing to do with someone named Mercedes?)
canonigo = a priest serving in a cathedral
crema de fruta = cream of fruit
empanada = pie or stuffed pastry (from empanar, to wrap with bread or dough)
ensaimada = sweet bun (from the Catalan saim, or pork lard, which was traditionally used to make the bun)
galletas = hardtacks or hard biscuits (from the galleon; hardtacks are also known as ship's biscuits in English)
leche flan = milk custard
lengua de gato = cat's tongue
maiz con hielo = corn with ice
maja blanca = white belle (but maja can also come from from majar, or to mash)
maja maiz = corn belle
mamon = small baby (noun); suckling (adjective, as in suckling baby)
merengue = meringue (supposedly named after the Swiss town of Meiringen)
pan de regla = menstruation bread (regla's association with menstruation comes from regla menstrual, or menstrual rule/period)
pastillas = pills
pastillas de leche = milk pills
rosquillos = ringlet cookies (from rosca, meaning ring-shaped roll)
torta = round cake or loaf (the Spanish word for omelette is tortilla)
turrones = nougats

Castillo, Carlos and Otto F. Bond. 1948. Spanish-English English-Spanish Dictionary. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago
Duran, Carlos Francisco. 1942. English-Spanish Spanish-English Dictionary. Cleveland, Ohio: World Publishing Company
Free Translation Online
Online Etymology Dictionary

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