It’s been less than two months since returning from Argentina to the nearly unrelenting sub-zero temperatures of New York.
In other words, two months of checking the weather report in Buenos Aires, remembering the crispy perfection of a good empanada, and weeping quietly to myself as South American friends post their pictures from the beach on Facebook.
Here are two things that I’m using to ease my transition back to the North American tundra:
Mate (or “yerba mate”) is a sort of herbal tea infusion that is the national drink in Argentina, Uruguay, and other parts of South America. It has a stimulant effect similar to coffee, but has a generally milder effect on the body. The steps used to brew the Mate in the correct way are open for debate and bound to start a heated discussion among the cognoscenti. But after the argument ends, you’ll see everyone passing around the mate gourd and bombilla (the metal straw you drink mate through) and having a fine time.
Mate: It’s not just a beverage — it’s a social occasion.
“Mate Culture” is beginning to catch on here in the USA. In fact, the gringos at Amazon.com are now selling a variety of Mate-related items, including Mate gourds and bombillas!
In case you aren’t sure about how to prepare it, here’s a quick video primer that I found:
Amigo Foods is also a wonderful resource for all sorts of great Argentinian food here in the States, including alfajores and dulce de leche. Now only if Havanna Alfajores were available here in the USA …..
Check out anything by Bajofondo — but Mar Dulce is probably a great place to start, mixing electronic elements with traditional tango. Nelly Furtado and Elvis Costello make guest appearances, but the mixture of Rio de la Plata rhythms with a downtempo vibe is the real hook of this album.
Here’s a sample: