Wednesday, August 17, 2005

yerba mate

That's pronounced "mah-tay" and in my tiredness of late I forgot to mention this interesting plant from South America. I was introduced to mate about fifteen years ago by my favorite history professor, who had done a stint in Buenos Aires, and he told us about the "national drink of Argentina" and how great it was. It was pretty hard to come by here in Dallas but now many of the health food or organic stores carry it. The plant is native to Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay & southern Brazil and contains a substance that makes you feel good like caffeine without the jolt, keeps you alert, suppresses your appetite, and contains beneficial antioxidants. (It's in the same chemical family as caffeine but is technically not caffeine.)

Mate's chief drawback is that it tastes like dirt. I think the average North American would find it distasteful. I acquired a taste for it a few years ago, the year we were working twelve-hour shifts and I went for a month without a day off. I think there were 3 or 4 of us that were only hanging on because of mate. I found it was cheaper to buy it over the internet and used to get it from this place. You can watch their video about drinking mate. The above photo is the gourd I got for drinking my mate. I stopped drinking mate after that awful summer. I don't know if the connotation was too strong or if I just decided I didn't want to drink filtered dirt anymore. This year a co-worker found some orange-and-spice flavored mate in bags made by Celestial Seasonings, that "whore of tea", as my friend calls them. I tried it a few times and I have to say they did a great job of killing the taste while still allowing you to get that very subtle good feeling from it.

I have been told to expect two days off this weekend, but I heard that story last week, too. We've lost most of our freelancers; 2 kids went off to college, a high-school teacher left to prep for the new school year, and our remaining overage high-schooler will return to school next week. We're doing ok so far, so the worst must be over. At least I hope so. I want to get back to personal creative pursuits and my desk hasn't been clear for at least two months!

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