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A few days ago my friend Sandra (author of the blog, "Presépio com Vista para o Canal") came to Zwolle for a visit. The plan was to have a lazy lunch and walk around town a little. Since we were having a spell of nice weather with lots of sun and clear sky, I thought it would be a good idea to sit somewhere nice near the water in the city centre and have a bit of a picnic.
Sandra is always very receptive and enthusiastic about discovering traditions and habits from other parts of the world, so I came up with a little surprise for her. Before leaving the house, I boiled some water and poured it into a thermos flask I brought from Argentina. What surprise did I have in mind? Well, pouring Sandra some mates, of course!
|Pouring "mates" for friends.|
|My collection of mate gourds from Argentina.|
Because mate is such an important part of our everyday lives back in Argentina, I thought that Sandra would be interested in tasting it and hearing all about it. In order to prepare and pour this infusion you need a bit of equipment: the thermos flask for the hot water, the yerba mate or dry leaves to be brewed, some sugar, the gourd to pour it in (also called mate) and the metal filter straw. You can also add other herbs to the mate or even orange or lemon peel to give it a citrus flavour.
|The raw gourds waiting to be carved and polished to be used to pour mates.|
|The metal straws wih filters, used to sip the mates from the gourd.|
|My carpincho leather case to transport the mate equipment. Photo by Sandra.|
Finally, the moment to open the mysterious leather case arrived. We sat by the canal, I opened the case, took the thermos out -nothing odd there, maybe it was coffee? tea? spirits?- and then out came the tumbler containing the dried leaves of yerba mate and I started preparing the drink. First I took the gourd, filled 3/4 of it with the yerba, then shook it a bit to make the loose powder to go to the surface and avoid them from going through the sieve and drinking them. Then I placed the metal filter straw to one side and I also added a pinch of peppermint leaves to give it more taste. Instead of sugar I normally use sweetener so I added some of that and then poured the hot water. The first mate is always for the cebador (the person pouring it) to make sure it is prepared correctly, so I had the first one and I made sure it was ok. Then, I poured again and passed it to Sandra. What did Sandra think of it?
Well, I am sure that it tasted quite strange to her, probably! Drinking mate is an acquired taste and the first few sips or the first few rounds of mate will definitely taste a bit too strong and probably bitter, We, Argentines, drink it normally from an early age and some of us don't even get to really like it, but because it is usually done socially, we always join in the mate circles while spending time with friends or family.
|Rosario, a friend's daughter, is not yet 3 years old and she already drinks mates as an expert!|
I am not sure what Sandra thought of those first sips of mate, but I do know that she was rather impressed with the ritual and the health benefits that yerba mate offers. So, guess what I am giving her for her birthday?
|Packets of different types of yerba mate.|
Thank you, Sandra, for posting this article about mate and your visit in your blog and for letting me use your photo of the "magic case"!