“Making Mate and Whistling a Tango”

These are the words of Luciana as she reminisced to me about her Porteno Grandparents and times when she’s felt homesick for Argentina. She lived in London for a time. I stayed with her for just shy of a week and felt so at home in this big old bohemian 1930’s apartment. Within 5 minutes of being in the door, with my backpack heavily lumped onto the cool floor we were ‘sharing a mate’.

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Couchsurf car: Pina, name after the awesome German dance choreographer šŸ™‚

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Another Couchsurf home. Luciana’s lived in a 1930’s residential building with gigantic proportions.

Tomar un mate!

=To take a mate (“ma-tay”). Much like black tea with milk in the UK – a.k.a. “a cuppa” – mate is ubiquitous in Argentine culture. Before the influence of American coffee shops took over the world, mate was even more embedded in daily life here. It’s not just a case of sipping this stimulating pick-me-up to revive yourself or to pausing for a thirst quencher – to “tomar un mate” is to share a conversation….to hang out….to be together.

Mate Drinking

Loose leaf: add hot water to your mate and enjoy. As you’d expected from Southern Brazil to Uruguay, from Northern Argentina to the South, mate varies in taste and preparation.

Fancy a Cuppa?

I feel this way about tea in the UK. In my family a cuppa is drunk almost hourly (my father’s influence), much to the horror and puzzlement of our French relatives. To my delight, that cup of tea is nearly always accompanied by a chat, an update or a longer conversation.

So the social contact and the drinking are interwoven.

Mate is drunk from a little hollowed out gourd. These were as little as 20 pesos (about Ā£1).

Mate is drunk from a little hollowed out gourd. These were as little as 20 pesos (about Ā£1).

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Mate is quite literally shared, the gourd and silver straw passed from one person to another.

If you’re feeling peckish

…other Argentine delicacies to enjoy before or after your mate……

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Not as tasty as the real thing: Empanada purses!

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Hotdogs! and other animal carcass things….plus chips: papa fritas.

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Bitza pizza everywhere – the ever-present Italian influence n Buenos Aires.

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Did I mention Dulce-di-leche…..? Confiterias everywhere, aaahhhhh! I have nightmares that Alfajores are chasing me down the street demanding I eat them!

An antidote to Alfajores.

An antidote to Alfajores.

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Gratuitous unrelated photo of an Upholsterer with a darn pretty frontage šŸ™‚

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