This series of posts are about the different customs and traditions that we are finding here in Argentina. If you ever come to Argentina, I can assure you that you will see people with these little wooden cup-like items in their hands. It will have a metal “stem” protruding out of the top. This is a mate (pronounced ma-tay). We use these to drink…mate! Yes, a “mate” is the cup you drink “mate” out of. Mate is an herbal tea. It is prepared by pouring the dry mate herb into the mate cup and pouring hot (sometimes too hot) water into the mate cup.
The metal “stem” is actually a straw called a “bombilla” (pronounced “bombeesha”) and contains a filter in the lower end to separate the mate infusion from leaves and stems. Sometimes there is sugar, sometimes mint, orange, lemon, other herbs, and sometimes it is just plain or “amargo” (this is the way I prefer it).
It is a social drink, so once you drink it, more hot water is poured in and it is passed to the next person. You drink out of the same straw and use the same mate herb until it has lost it’s savor (then the mate cup is dumped out and filled back up with fresh mate herb to pass around more. I love it! I drink it almost daily as I am out with people practicing Spanish. It is intertwined with Argentine culture.
More posts are coming out soon. Check back for more posts about life here in Argentina.