Yerba Mate Tea, Memories of Paraguay, and a Regency Romance

A cold rain blew through southern California yesterday, making me yearn for tea and a good book.

mate cocido with pumpkin biscotti

mate cocido with pumpkin biscotti

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.

aladyspovlg (1200x1800)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?

About mlknowlden

In 2011, I left engineering to write full-time. Between the years 1992 and 2011, I’ve published 14 stories with Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine that have featured the hypochondriac detective Micky Cardex and two stories that did not. The 1998 story “No, Thank You, John” was nominated for a Shamus award. Many of these stories have been included in anthologies and translated in multiple languages. With Neal Shusterman, I’ve also published a science fiction story for the More Amazing Stories anthology (Tor) published in 1998 and co-authored with Neal Shusterman an X-Files Young Adult novel (DARK MATTER) for HarperCollins in 1999 under the name Easton Royce. For Simon & Schuster in July 2012, we published an e-novella UNSTRUNG in Neal's UNWIND world. I have graduate degrees in English and Electrical Engineering.
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3 Responses to Yerba Mate Tea, Memories of Paraguay, and a Regency Romance

  1. imagbigreader says:

    Michelle, I enjoyed the post about the tea, and the custom that goes with it.

    Kaye [Wilson Klem]

  2. Rebecca Lang says:

    Just the other day, I was wondering what Yerba Mate tea was. Thanks for the info. I really love your descriptions of food and how you link them together. I really want to eat chipa and drink cocido. Yum. My tummy rumbles.

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