Wearing Your Heart on Your Termo
Leather-covered terere thermoses (termos) are popular throughout Paraguay from the Chaco to Caacupe. Thermoses come in a dizzying array of styles. Some are decorated in traditional artisanal styles with idyllic scenes of the Paraguayan countryside etched or pressed into the leather. Others are covered by a patchwork of brightly colored patent leather (cuerina). Many choose to personalize their thermos with their name, favorite soccer club, or profession.
Terere & Mate: Do’s & Don ‘ts
Drinking both terere and mate are social events where certain rules of etiquette apply. Here are some do’s and don’t’s that will help you integrate smoothly into a terere or mate circle.
Do: Keep a steady pace. Drain the guampa fully in two to three sips and pass it back to whoever is cebando (serving). If you take too long you will be admonished No es un microfono (it’s not a microphone).
Do: Accept the guampa if it is handed to you out of turn. It’s good luck!
Do: Say gracias when you’ve had your fill. But don’t say it beforehand, or you will be passed over on your next ha.
Don’t: Express concerns over hygiene or wipe the bombilla before drinking from it. If you are not comfortable sharing drinks, there are plenty of polite ways to decline.
Don’t: Give up if you don’t like it at first. Even when tempered with yuyos, yerba has an acquired taste. Work your way up by asking to be included once the yerba is mas lavada (weaker).
Don’t: Overfill your guampa; leave room for the yerba to expand as it soaks up water.
Don’t: Remove the bombilla once it is in place.
Mate Cocido Quemado
Mate cocido quemado, usually shortened to cocido, is popular for breakfast and afternoon tea time (merienda). To make this drink, sugar is dusted over a layer of yerba mate and then toasted over a fire or tossed with red-hot embers. The aroma of burning sugar and yerba mate is intoxicating and unmistakable. Once the sugar has caramelized, the yerba is steeped in water, strained, and consumed either black or with milk. Many Paraguayans drink cocido with galletas (dry biscuits). The galleta swells up as it absorbs the cocido, earning this breakfast classic the nickname “cururu, the Guarani word for toad. There are several brands of pre-made mate cocido available in both loose and tea bag form One of the best is Abuelita PY whose labels feature a cute white-haired granny.
Soda or gaseosa is consumed in large quantities. In urban areas, the typical big name brands such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi are available. In rural areas, cheaper local brands such as Piri and Niko are more popular. Two flavors worth trying are guarana and pomelo (grapefruit).
Sugar cane, cana de azucar in Spanish, is known as takuare ‘e in Guaram, which means sweet bamboo. Throughout the countryside you will see large trapiches or mills used for grinding sugar cane and collecting the sweet juice inside. Depending on the size of the operation, the trapiches are operated either by hand, by oxen, or in some cases by a small motor. The juice can then be consumed along with ice as mosto, made into miel de cana, or fermented to produce an unrefined rum known as cana.
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