A cold rain blew through southern California yesterday, making me yearn for tea and a good book.
In the warmer climate of Paraguay, I discovered yerba mate tea: the tereré version served cold and cocido (“Tea of the Jesuits”) served hot and sweet. It has a strong, grassy flavor that I find comforting. Drinking cocido reminds me of driving down an unlit rural highway to Asuncion and Celso pulling over in the middle of nowhere. From a tropical grove, three woman dashed to the car, one carrying a thermos of hot, sweet cocido, the second drawing fresh baked chipa (manioc, egg and cheese baked to the size and consistency of a soft pretzel) from a basket atop her head, and the third taking our order. Nothing tasted better.
My memory of tereré is linked to memories of Paraguayan men. Groups of tereré drinkers would congregate on street corners, sharing a communal thermos of chilled yerba mate, sometimes steeped with mint or lemon grass or medicinal herbs, drinking from a communal gourd or ox horn (capped with leather or silver) and a bombilla (a metal straw with a filter at the end). Whenever Celso or Ramon were lost, unlike men of the USA, they’d stop at one of these corners and engage in a lively discussion. Sometimes they’d sip proffered tereré. Then back in the car, the brothers would decide those men didn’t really know the way, so we’d continue to another corner and another ox horn of tereré.
I’m re-reading Jacqueline Diamond’s A Lady’s Point of View. In my opinion, she is Georgette Heyer’s heir to a satisfying Regency Romance. Ms Diamond wrote six, but I especially like this first one (and not just because she offers it for only 99 cents). Since I spent most of my life near-sighted, I particularly enjoy the foibles and near disasters that this engaging character encounters when not allowed to wear her spectacles. It makes for page-turning fun.
Jacqueline Diamond’s more than 95 books (see her interview) also cover contemporary romance, science fiction, mystery and other genres—but rainy days and the yerba mate’s grassy scent evoking England’s green landscape demand a Regency.
Care to join me?