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Travel Photo of the Day: Maté in Argentina

Travel Photo of the Day: Maté in Argentina


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What coffee is to the States, maté is to Argentina

Yerba maté is a common beverage throughout much of South America.

If you’ve done any traveling through South America, then chances are that you’ve probably seen locals sipping from a stout vessel with a filtered metal straw. Traditionally, this container is a hollow calabash gourd (sometimes also horn, wood, or clay) with a stainless steel straw. Although pretty much any beverage could be served from this charming cup and straw, it is almost strictly reserved for maté: an herbal tea infusion made from the leaves of a yerba maté plant. In general, it’s the South American (especially in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil) equivalent of coffees or teas..

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The yerba maté plant is actually a holly that has been harvested from the Parana-Paraguay river system since before colonization. It contains caffeine and is actually one of the many "New World" caffeinated beverages that were not largely accepted for consumption in Europe around the colonization period. Its consumption did spread throughout South America, however, and it became a popular beverage across the continent after 1700. River transportation running south of Paraguay eventually brought the drink to Argentina (see above), where its consumption remains a common and casual habit.

These days, you can find the tea and its accompanying gourd worldwide, but why not get it from the source?

Do you have a travel photo that you would like to share? Send it on over to lwilson[at]thedailymeal.com.

Follow The Daily Meal’s Travel editor Lauren Wilson on Twitter.


Everything You Need to Know About Yerba Mate Tea, the South American Super-Beverage

If you&rsquore looking for a boost of energy that doesn&rsquot come from an espresso bean, look no further than yerba mate tea.

Yerba Mate tastes like a tea and hits you like a coffee — and yet, it’s technically neither. If you’re looking for a boost of energy that doesn’t come from an espresso bean, look no further than this South American super-beverage made of the steeped leaves and twigs of an indigenous plant, which has been providing locals with a natural pick-me-up for centuries.

The drink itself dates back to the pre-Columbian era, when the local Guaraní people in Paraguay discovered and started to aggressively cultivate the Ilex paraguariensis plant (a member of the holly family), dry the leaves and twigs, and drink them in hot water — mainly as a wellness beverage. Once the Spanish colonized Paraguay in the seventeenth century, they too began drinking it, and it became the country’s chief export. Other South American countries like Brazil, Argentina, and Chile grew the crop as well, and even after the arrival of coffee and other kinds of tea in South America, Yerba Mate remained one of the most popular drinks in the area.

Strong, bitter, and vegetal, Yerba Mate has a very distinctive taste that, like coffee, can require adjusting to. “It’s very expressive, like this euphoric experience,” says Ashleigh Parsons, of the Los Angeles hotspot Alma at The Standard, who used to live in Argentina. Depending on how much you consume, she says, “It can feel very trippy. The caffeine in it can really give you this high.”

There’s even a time-honored ritual around the consumption of Yerba Mate that celebrates this sensation — usually in a park, or some kind of outside gathering spot. That ritual is described in the name, Yerba Mate, which translates to “gourd herb,” referring to the standard way of drinking the beverage. The practice requires a mate (or dried gourd), a bombilla, (a special straw for drinking that filters out the tea leaves), and a thermos, for transporting the hot water. During the drinking process, individuals will sit in a circle, and one person (called the cebador) will fill the mate about two-thirds the way full with the leaves, add a little bit of warm water to release the flavors, put the bombilla into the mate at an angle (to ensure the straw doesn’t get plugged up), and finally top it off with hot water (never boiling, as that will burn the leaves). The gourd gets passed around, and everyone takes a sip through the bombilla. (A tip: never use the bombilla to stir, this is considered very impolite!). There are tons of different types of both mates and bombillas, and in South America, each person will usually have his or her own unique one. While mates are, most traditionally, made of actual gourds, they can also be made with ceramic and wood, and painted decoratively. Bombillas, too, can be made with various materials, including silver, stainless steel, and bamboo.

As the gourd gets passed around, it will keep getting refilled with hot water, with each subsequent pour intensifying the taste of the leaves. If bitter isn’t your thing, you can always add sugar or milk to your Yerba Mate — though if you want to drink as the locals do, you’ll take it without any add-ons. As far as food pairings, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to Yerba Mate, but it’s not uncommon to see pastries or crackers served alongside the drink.

Of course, this elaborate process isn’t the only way people drink Yerba Mate. Just as we drink our morning coffee, many South Americans will prepare a thermos of Yerba Mate, drinking it throughout the day for a burst of energy.

Still, according to Parsons, the act of passing around the mate in South America is widely considered to be 𠇊n art and a conversational piece,” she says. “It’s this communal beverage, and the entire ritual of drinking it is meant to be connective and celebratory.”


The Lomito Steak Sandwich: a National Treasure

Ahh, the lomito sandwich. In Turkey they have a kebab in England, well, they have the kebab too in the US it’s a burger. In Argentina, it’s the lomito. It’s the fast food to go, it soaks up the alcohol, it’s a lunchtime comfort food and it’s a classic.

It is, at its core, a steak sandwich – but a steak sandwich in the extreme. Even the basic ones will have a slab of thin slab of lomo steak, tomato, lettuce, onion, chimichurri (a spicy sauce), mayonnaise and a fried egg. Yep, a fried egg. Oh, and some ham. Ham and melted cheese. And two pieces of bread.

By this time, you’ll have lost the will to even attempt to hold all the ingredients in, despite the light toasting it receives. If the contents aren’t dripping off your elbow within 30 seconds, you’ve been duped by an inferior product. Here is a video of one being made, featuring a suitably apt cumbia soundtrack – if the place you buy it from isn’t blasting cumbia, its officially not authentic.

The beauty of the sandwich is that it’s always open to innovation. Occasionally, you may find one revolutionary (traditionalists will want to look away now) who has put some pork in it instead of the steak – a favourite in neighbouring Chile. Once, I even saw an aubergine slice, but I’d rather not talk about it.

The lomito is not for the faint hearted. But for a population that were given beef ribs when they were teething and have spent the rest of their lives eating meat (at least once a day), it’s no problem. The Argentine people seem to have a metabolism designed for lomito. Indeed, to them, it’s just a snack. But it’s also a comfort food and, in some cases, a passion – there’s even a Facebook page dedicated to this culinary masterpiece.

The lomito is the king of the fast food snacks. It sits above the choripán (spicy hot dog) and morcipán (a black pudding sausage in a bun) both in price and stature. It says “Friday” it says, “what the hell, life is good, I’m having a lomito”.

But where to get these epicurean delights? This, like the kebab, is seemingly inversely related in quality to the salubriousness of the establishment selling the item. Sure, some upmarket restaurants have tried to make it posh – you’ll probably find it’s been deconstructed and served with a ‘foam of mayonnaise’. The best places to get a lomito are in the carts dotted around Buenos Aires, and there is one place in particular to which almost every porteño will direct you when you ask for the best lomito (just try it!): the Costanera Sur.


Someone enjoying a ‘lomito completo’. Looks hearty… – Photograph by Oskari Kettunen

The Costanera Sur is a wide esplanade between Puerto Madero and the Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur. It’s often busy, and on weekend afternoons and warm days it’s packed with joggers, rollerbladers, sunbathers and, very often, cumbia bands from the shanty towns busking for a few pesos. Everyone is drinking mate. It’s also peppered with lomito vans called carritos (little carts). It’s what you do – have a walk, eat a lomito, drink a beer.

The other place to get good lomitos probably requires the guidance of a local, but that is around Retiro Station. This frantically busy station has all sorts of cheap restaurants and bars, and is the place to go if you ever utter any words like “Buenos Aires is quite European”. This is a stark reminder Buenos Aires is in Latin America. It’s the nearest you can get to the Buenos Aires most people live in, while still downtown. I love Retiro, but most hate it. Either way, it has the cheapest lomitos in the city.


What to eat for breakfast in Argentina

Breakfast in Argentina can be either sweet or savory but it will almost always include some dulce de leche and almost never any eggs.

Argentinians wake up to a cup of mate, a scoop of dulce de leche and some other treats. It’s a simple breakfast but it has everything I needed to kick start the day full of energy. If you are the type who likes to have an English breakfast, then you might struggle as it is not a local tradition, but if you prefer carbohydrate rich meals first thing in the morning, you will be in good company.

Dulce de leche

Argentina gave dulce de leche to the world. And maybe some great football players too.

Dulce de leche is made by cooking milk and sugar slowly and for a long time until it becomes a thick paste. While some people cook it at home, the majority buy it from the supermarket or from specialty dulce de leche stores (yes, such a thing exists).

Not all dulce de leche is made equal. Some brands are thicker, some are sweeter, some are runnier and some are all of the above. Diabetics can also have their share with sugar-free dulce de leche. Everyone has a favorite brand and agreeing on which one is best is a matter of national debate.

A true Argentinian dulce de leche lover scoops it by the spoonful, directly from the pot. But almost everyone in the country likes to spread it on toasts, sometimes dip medialunas in it, or put it on pretty much anything and everything.

Dulce de leche is versatile and is used in its common form or to flavor desserts, from ice cream to cakes, panqueques or tarts. A dessert menu will always have at least one dish featuring the ingredient.

If you want to enjoy a typical Argentinian breakfast , put some queso crema, or cream cheese, on toast and then cover it with as much or as little dulce de leche as you like. I prefer to put little on top but locals like to drench it and waiters always insisted that I needed to add some more. All hotel breakfasts will offer the ingredients to make your own.

Medialunas

Medialunas are the Argentinian version of a croissant . They are usually of medium size, smaller than the typical French croissant, and can be both sweet or savory.

Medialunas de manteca are buttery and usually have a layer of sugar syrup on top whereas medialunas de grasa are savory-ish and don’t have any sugar on top. You can easily tell which one is which because the syrup layer makes the sweet ones shine.

Medialunas are eaten as-is or can be dipped in dulce de leche for an extra dose of Argentinian flavor. They were my go-to item at every breakfast and I started every day with at least a couple, usually a sweet and a savory, both of them topped with some dulce de leche.

Ham and cheese

If you are not a sweet breakfast type of person, the best local alternative is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with white bread. This is what we call in Spain a bikini, a simple toasted sandwich , not a grilled one, sometimes simply made with toasted bread and cheese and ham in between two slices.

This is exactly as it sounds and another favorite Argentinian food paired with some coffee.

Facturas

Both a breakfast and a mid-afternoon teatime snack, facturas are a mix of all sorts of danish pastries that you can buy from a bakery. They can be topped with the same shiny sugar syrup and sometimes have some cream or fruit as well.

Facturas are usually bite-sized so you buy them by the weight rather than by the number, like you may with medialunas.

Panqueque

Panqueques are the Argentinian version of a pancake or crepe . They are a cross between a thicker American pancake and a French crepe, similar to to crepes found in Japanese food. They are almost always filled with dulce de leche. You start to see how ever-present the sweet milk paste is….

Cremona bread

Cremona bread is a round wheel-shaped layered bread similar to a millefeuille but unsweetened. Each of the pieces of the wheel are usually about two inches high and are broken apart individually and eaten. I also got some mini cremonas as bread at a fine dining restaurant in Buenos Aires.

You can eat cremona on its own or, you guessed it, with dulce de leche or jam. Cremona is a breakfast staple that is not very commonly found but if you see it, try it, I loved it.


Your ultimate guide to preparing mate

Mate is ubiquitous in Uruguayan society, regardless of gender, class, or age. A ranch owner drinks it with the cowboys, as does a grandmother with her grandson. We take mate with us when we go for a walk along the waterfront in Montevideo or go on a family trip or just get together with friends at the park.

Although we’re the world’s biggest consumer of yerba, the herb infused to make mate, we don’t grow it. It’s imported from Misiones, a province in northeastern Argentina along the border with Paraguay. Yerba mate was originally brought to Uruguay by Jesuit missionaries in South America in the 1600s.

According to Uruguayan food anthropologist Gustavo Laborde, the Jesuits sold provisions (yerba mate, cotton fabric, leather, wood, tobacco and grains) to other colonial communities. Their botanical knowledge helped develop the yerba industry. But the gauchos (cowboys) were the ones who popularized drinking mate across Uruguay and made it a social ritual. They were also the first cebadores —those in charge of preparing and pouring mate for a group.

Mate is often shared by two, three, or four people. Cebadores must not forget that making and pouring mate is a ceremony. Always keep your mate at the right temperature—hot, at 75 degrees Celsius (167 degrees Fahrenheit). Serve your mate drinkers in a circular fashion and don’t stop serving until a person says “thank you.” That means he or she is out of the mate circle.

Step 1

Choose your type of yerba mate. This is crucial, as it determines the flavor. While Argentinians prefer a mixture of leaves and stems, Uruguayans prefer the Brazilian brand Canarias, a powdery type made with only leaves that is strong in flavor, bitter and high in mateína (the caffeine in mate). We typically drink mate out of a cured squash gourd (also called a mate), but nowadays ceramic mates are popular because they’re easy to clean and leave no residual taste.

Step 2

Pour the powdery leaves into the gourd until it is about 3/4 full. Tap the side of the gourd with your hand to level the leaves.

Step 3

Tilt the yerba to one side to form what we call a mountain.

Step 4

Pour two tablespoons of cold water on the opposite side of the mountain and then add warm water until the gourd is 1/4 full. Let it rest eight minutes to absorb the water .

Step 5

Carefully insert a metal straw (a bombilla ) at an angle so that the bottom is in the mountain and the top is on the opposite side.

Step 6

Slowly pour hot water alongside the straw. Never let the water reach the top layer of leaves. If you do this step correctly, the mate should produce a small amount of foam.

Step 7

When adding water for additional servings, always add it slowly, soaking just a little bit more of the mountain. This keeps the flavor of the mate fresh.


The Catch Of The Day

This well-timed drone image was taken over Panama City Beach, Florida when a fisherman accidentally caught a hammerhead shark on his line. The aerial footage shows the fisherman struggling to reel in the shark. The fisherman eventually won the fight, and the shark was then released unharmed.

Youtube / Birds-iView Aerial Photography

&ldquoWe weren&rsquot directly targeting hammerhead sharks but when your line is out there you never know what you&rsquore going to hook into,&rdquo one of the fishermen told reporters after the incident. Reports show that the fisherman was part of an outdoor adventure group and a tourist from Denmark. Hammerhead sharks are one of several species of sharks common to Florida waters.


How to Make Yerba Mate

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Mate (pronounced mah-teh) is a drink made by steeping dried leaves from the yerba mate plant [1] X Research source in hot water. It was the Guarani Indians of South America who first discovered the rejuvenating qualities of yerba mate [2] X Research source and now it's enjoyed in Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, parts of Brazil, Chile, eastern Bolivia, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey. It tastes somewhat like green tea, with hints of tobacco and oak. The simplest method for many is to treat yerba mate like any other loose tea steep it in hot water and then filter out the leaves before drinking. (Note: The ideal brewing temperature for yerba mate is approximately 170°F(77°C) using boiling water will produce a bitter, inferior beverage.) In order to enjoy mate in the traditional way, however, you must prepare it properly as outlined below.


6. Provoleta – grilled cheese

Source: Photo by user Javier Lastras used under CC BY 2.0

If you are a cheese lover, then you definitely have to try Provoleta. It’s simply a thick, round slice of provolone cheese put straight on the grill in a skillet until it turns into a gooey goodness with a slightly crisp and browned top on the outside. Drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with oregano and red crushed pepper is usually served as an appetizer to an Argentinian asado.

Minga

Address: Costa Rica 4528, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Webpage: Minga


Quince Paste

In Argentina, quince is an autumn fruit that is cooked before eating.

The fruit has a golden yellow flesh with a delicate honey aroma. But its flavor is very tart, and thus it is most often consumed in jams, jellies or as a paste.

Quince have a high pectin content that makes them very appropriate for these kinds of preparations.

Quince paste is made by cooking down the fruit with sugar until a thick mixture forms. This mixture is then cooled in a container. Once cooled, it&rsquos sliced and enjoyed with cheese or in different desserts.

Quince paste or quince cheese is available in many Latin stores in the US.


Typical Argentine customs and traditions

1- The mate

This typical South American drink consists of an infusion of bitter flavor based on yerba and hot water, which is taken in a pumpkin with a light bulb.

In Argentina there is no time to take mate , Can be an option for breakfasts and snacks, a companion for other times of the day and a possibility to mitigate the wait before meals. According to recent records, 98% of the population claimed to take mate.

2- The roast

It is undoubtedly one of the typical foods of Argentina. The vast amount of fields for the production of livestock, makes the country have meat ideal for consumption.

This way of cooking the res, placing it on a grill over hot coals, is one of the Argentine traditions par excellence. The method of cooking varies according to the rotisserie and the cut of meat.

3- The dressage

This sports practice is one of the most traditional in Argentina, there are numerous popular festivals where Gauchos They test their skill to control the raging animals.

In their professional version, dressage is considered an Olympic sport, but they are not comparable, because in the Argentinean fields it is a longstanding tradition, in which man and animal maintain a kind of confrontation.

4- The empanadas

It is another of the typical dishes of this South American country. There are all kinds of empanadas versions, not only for their preparation and recipe but also for the great variety of tastes.

The most traditional are the empanadas criollas, which are invited in the country festivals and consist of a dough filled with minced meat, onion , Olives , egg And seasoning. Although the recipe varies by region.

5- The payada

La payada is the musical art of improvisation accompanied by a guitar, which in Argentina is a tradition typical of the gauchos.

In their celebrations, the payadores encourage the evenings with long hours of recitation, in which they relate situations of the moment, of the people who accompany it and of other traditions.

In fact, the Martin Fierro , By José Hernández, accounts for this activity in different parts, marking it as one of the favorite activities of the gauchos in their leisure time.

6- The game of the ring

This game of European origin is one of the classics of the gauchesque Argentine celebrations since the origins of the nation.

The run of the ring is an activity for riders who mounted on horses and at trotting speed should be able to remove a hoop, hung two or three meters high, with a toothpick.

Tradition says that if the gaucho gets the ring he must give it to the woman of his choice.

7- The tango

SONY DSC

It is one of the typical dances of Argentina, mainly of the zone of the River of the Silver, where is the City of Buenos Aires, Federal Capital of the Nation.

With arrabaleros origins, this musical genre and its dance is one of the Argentinean traditions. Her gala dresses, her bars and her steps are celebrated in every corner of the country.

8- Folklore

It is the typical music of Argentina and it has a large amount of subgenre representing the different regions of the country.

Their melodies and dances are one of the most widespread gauchesque traditions, depending on the celebrations can vary the types of dances that are developed. Some examples are: carnavalito, zamba, underwear, chacarera, pericón, gato, malambo, etc.

For their interpretation the men use gaucho suits, with field pantaloons, boots, hat and shirt, while the women wear dress and handkerchief.

9- The wrong

Although it is an activity with ancestral origins in Egypt, in Argentina it became a national tradition.

The waste is the moment of meeting between the owners of the hacienda, the other workers and curious neighbors who look at the cattle.

In addition to the marking and vaccination work, there is a celebration with meals and typical dances, and a show of gaucho skills.

10- Football

The national sport in Argentina is the duck, an activity similar to polo but that is played with a ball with handles that is carried with the hands.

However, the most popular is football. Country of origin of Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi, this activity is practiced in all corners of the country, at all times, with protagonists of all ages.

In this sport all strata are fused to share a match that can take place in any field, be it a street, a park or a soccer field.

The weekend is a tradition that millions of Argentines devote hours to see their favorite club, but also to participate in amateur competitions.

References

  1. Folckl dictionaryorRich argentinian , Felix Coluccio, Ediciones Plus Ultra, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1981.
  2. The Gaucho Martin Fierro , José Hernández, 1872.

3. The Gaucho. Customs and Traditions , Fernando Romero Carranza, Letemendia Publishing House, Buenos Aires, Argentina.