Mate is a plant that grows in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and some parts of Brazil. It is the source of the famous mate beverage. Even though it is called “yerba mate” the plant grows into a tree that can reach up to 15 m.
The plant has an energetic effect similar to coffee, and it is rich in antioxidants and iron. Just like coffee it can be addictive. Usually people in Argentina have mate at least once a day, especially in the morning.
The dry herb, sometimes mixed with other herbs such as mint, is placed into a recipient called mate. It can have many shapes and it can be made of wood, leather, plastic, metal or even sylicone.
A metal pipe is inserted. After hot water is poured inside, the pipe allows you to drink the infusion while filtering the herbs. This procedure is repeated several times, depending on the cuantity and the cuality of the herbs. Sometimes people add sugar if the herbs are bitter.
There is a philosophy of sharing behind this ritual. All people have to drink from the same envase, so you have to wait for the other person to finish before you can drink. There’s either only one person that poures the hot water for everyone, or the person who finished prepares the drink for the next person. Even nowadays people gather to enjoy mate, in parks or plazas.
Useful tip: If someone offers mate you say thank you only when you’re done and not each time you drink the infusion.
DULCE DE LECHE
The dulce de leche tastes similar to caramel. It is made by slowly heating sweetened milk. You can also buy it in Brazil or Chile, but I prefer the one made in Argentina or Uruguay.
It is served with pancakes, cakes, chocolate, biscuits … practically anything sweet and it tastes delicious.
The phrase that best describes this dessert is cookie sandwich. An alfajor is made of two round biscuits joined by a dulce de leche or jam filling, usually covered in dark or white chocolate. You can try the home-baked alfajores ones or the you can buy them in the regular stores, where you can purchase the ones produced by Milka or Oreo.
Empanadas are made by folding a piece of dough or bread around the stuffing. The empanadas can either be fried or baked the that can be fille with cheese, ham, vegetables or fruits.
They are ideal for a quick snack, especially since you can find them at every street corner.
BARBEQUE – “parilla” or “asado”
The fact that the argentine beef is famous all around the world is no coincidence. However, in Argentina you can find all sorts of meet in any restaurant and everywhere around town at cheap prices.
In my country we often eat beef and saussages, but the ones I`ve tried there were, in fact, a lot better.
The wine in Argentina is also world – renowned, especially the one from Mendoza. However, chileans claim that their wine is better and, sadly, I have to agree. Argentina began to export wine only after 1990, but it is now the 5th producer in the world.
This black, bitter beverage is a liquor made of herbs and it is very popular in Argentina. Every bar in the country sells fernet. The most famous brand is Fernet Branca. Usually the drink is mixed with Coca-Cola or soda beverages, but some people prefer it plain.