“If my mate runs out I’ve had it,” Oliveira thought. “my only real conversation is with this green gourd.” He studied the strange behavior of the mate, how the herb would breathe fragrantly as it came up on top of the water and how it would dive as he sucked and would cling to itself, everything fine lost and all smell except for that little bit that would come up in the water like breath and stimulate his Argentinean iron lung, so sad and solitary. (Julio Cortazar: Hopscotch)
Some rituals need a certain place. In Argentina, people sat together, talked and drank mate. The mate, a cup made out of a kind of a pumpin, gets passed around from person to person. You empty it, give it back to the server who passes it on to the next person. It keeps the group and conversations together until the thermos of warm water is empty.
I brought mate and yerba with me back home to Germany. For me, it has the taste of memory, it tastes like my first round of mate in the hostel in Buenos Aires, and many more rounds: at people’s homes in Buenos Aires, at the pool in Mendoza, at the Ostinatto Hostel back in Buenos Aires. Each round of mate tells a story.
However, it feels a bit out of place on the coffee table back home. It tastes bitter, unsusual and still a bit like green tea, they say. For me, it tastes like Argentina.
For christmas, the certain place is home.