Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mate ... not for the faint of heart

Mate (pronounced ma-tay) is hard to drink ... unless you're an Argentine who's grown up drinking the extremely bitter brew on your mama's knee. Our guide Girardo said he and all the locals drink this stuff daily, from hollowed-out calabash gourds, through metal straws, and in very large quantities. They love it, he told us. It's refreshing, soothing, a great digestive. He added that it's even said to be an appetite suppressant ... hmmm, is that why the meat-loving Argentine's are so lean?

Fortunately, Girardo took pity on us and sweetened our yerba mate while it steeped in hot water with a generous dose of sugar. While the other gals were only able to take a small sip before passing the mate back, I was finally able to drink some of it down ... and actually almost enjoy it. Almost. But not quite. Mate is definitely an acquired taste. Kinda like cilantro, or black licorice, or the stinkiest blue cheese. It evokes a strong reaction—often negative in the beginning, but with repeated exposures, I'm sure you'd grow to like it. Really.

Me: actually drinking the mate
JA: faking it (it was the only way she could take the pic without grimacing)

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