I’m going to try and keep my blogs as educational as possible throughout this experience to meet the second and third goals of the Peace Corps in culture sharing and to keep things interesting! Today, I’d like to cover a topic very integral to Paraguayan culture: Mate and Tereré.
Mate and Tereré are both types of “tea” for the foreigner. The former is sipped while hot, the later cold. The primary ingredient is yerba mate in Spanish or ka’a in Guarani. This herb is sold loose-leaf and often mixed with a large array of remedios in Spanish or yuyos/pohã ñana in Guarani (medicinal herbs) for a variety of ailments. To prepare this tasty mixture, the yerba mate and yuyos are placed in a relatively small metal or wooden cup called a matero (for mate) or a guampa (for tereré). Cold and hot water is then prepared in a thermos (remedios may also be placed in the water) and poured over the yerba to start the infusion. A bombillo, or a metal straw with a small sift on the bottom, is then used to sip out your tea. Pretty sweet, eh?
This traditional drink is quite possibly my favorite part of Paraguayan culture thus far. In particular, I have learned much about the flora of Paraguay through the process of collecting yuyos from my yard (and our neighbors’ yards), other families in town, and the local super mercado. Some of them you all will already know and others are totally new, for example:
Anise- Anise Seed
Burrito- no translation, a great digestive
Kapi’I Kati- no translation, a diuretic
Amba’y- no translation, expectorant
Salvia- no translation, sweet and good for the upset stomach
Sen- no translation, laxative
Surubina- no translation, promotes good circulation
Etc… there are soooooo many more too!
Yesterday I learned all about starting my own garden in Pargauay, so I think I’m going to jump right on the yuyo cultivation boat! When I get back to the States, it may even become a favorite pastime to wander our hippie herbal shops looking for some new yuyos. :-)