Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My first Asado, first Mate, and more...

So I got to go to my first asado this past weekend. I think it's my Lonely Planet: Argentina book that says you would be lucky to be invited to an asado when you are here, and they were right. We spent the day relaxing by the pool and eating amazing meat and fresh vegetables while looking at the mountains and riverbed below.  This was all courtesy of my awesome roommates, who in addition to having a place in the city, have a cabin in the countryside about an hour outside the city. It was so idyllic and was just perfect after being overwhelmed by being in a new place with such a foreign feel.

Mate (mah-tay, not "mate") is an interesting thing. It's tea, of course, but the etiquette around it and the cultural obsession with it here are the parts that really make it stand out. So, it's yerba mate tea and you can add sugar and/or some other flavoring to it. Then you pour hot water all over the loose leaves and drink it out of this gourd-shaped cup out of a silver bent straw. The idea is you share it with friends, and each time you get the cup, you drink it until the water is gone. Then, the water is refilled and you give it to the next person sharing mate with you. Again, this is probably something you'll get to do if you have friends here or if you're traveling with friends, but I seriously doubt ol' Frederico or whoever is going to ask you to join his little mate circle if you're backpacking through town. Maybe I'm wrong - the Mendocinos are pretty friendly. But I was pretty psyched to get to have some today already. The taste is a little strong, but I guess you get used to it. Plus, it's more caffeinated than coffee, so I have a feeling it will come in handy with work.

Random observation: You need to be a NINJA to cross the street here. Sure, there are stoplights. The drivers may even stop at them (I've seen some run a few, but mostly, they're law-abiding citizens...ish). But there are major intersections of busy streets where there is no light. There is not even a stop sign sometimes. If you're driving a car, you just basically pull a "California stop" and roll on through after slowing down to see if someone's gonna t-bone you. And through all of this, you, the pedestrian, are trying to cross the street. At the normal place where a crosswalk is.  It's kinda scary. Luckily, my NYC jaywalking skills are finally rewarded!

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