Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Maté Weather



It's a gray day, no longer winter, not yet spring. Is it warm? Uh-uh. Cold? Ish. On Sunday it was sixty degrees, on Monday it snowed three inches. If Macbeth were here he'd surely proclaim it "foul and fair" (Act I, sc. III).

When it's that hard to get a fix on the weather, nothing feels better than suddenly deciding what it is you want to eat or drink. I imagine this is how some women (or men) feel when they know exactly what shoes to wear. Today, I slid my feet into some warm maté.

The world outside is muddled, but in my apartment I'm drinking maté, and everything is warm and clear. Like the final act of a Shakespeare play, just one sip turned chaos into order.

I'd dabbled for a few years, but it wasn't until last summer that a Chilean friend fully inducted me into the cult of maté (not to be confused with the maté cult). Whenever I drink it I dutifully practice his method, and now so can you.

How to Make Maté Like Gabriel Sepulveda:

1. Fill the gourd halfway with yerba maté leaves. (You could use a less exotic vessel, but you could also drink champagne out of a rusty tin can.)

2. Shake the gourd with your hand covering its mouth, then blow off the dust that gathers on your palm. Repeat until there is no more dust.

3. Gently insert the bombilla (metal straw) into the leaves at a 45 degree angle. Never move it.

3. Cover the leaves with cool water.

4. Fill with near boiling water (between shrimp eyes and crab eyes) by trickling it down the straw.

5. Let steep about four minutes. Drink!

6. Continue filling with hot (but not boiling) water for several more infusions.

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4 comments:

Laura [What I Like] said...

I saw those gourds all over the place in Argentina and was always tempted to get one but never did. Now I'm depressed to have skipped it. Although that is quite an involved brewing process...possibly more than I could handle.

Aaron Kagan said...

If you can cure your own guanciale, you can definitely make mate. Go for it!

Jeff (Chowplay) said...

Thanks for the Mate instruction. I bought a gourd and bombilla a couple of years ago with some loose mate and found myself sucking up stuff through the straw. It was not a pleasant experience. The place I bought it from had instructions, but hadn't mentioned the shaking trick. I'll have to give it a try.

eli said...

Make mate in your grapefruit. Delicious.
1. Hollow out a mate-sized hole in a grapefruit. Leave a thick layer of flesh on the bottom and sides. You can use the grapefruit scraps in a salad, if you want.
2.Then fill the void with yerba, leaving about an inch of space at the top.
3.Pour a little cool water down one side and slip the bombilla in (to keep the yerba from scalding).
4. Your mate is now ready for hot water, sir. Heat the water until it gets noisy, but don't let it boil. As you refill the grapefruit, squeeze it a little to flavor your delicious mate.