In the south or Brazil, and Argentina and neighbouring countries, it is common to see people walking with large “thermos”* vacuum flasks. It seems an odd sight but it’s a frequent one even in the shopping areas of large cities like Buenos Aires or small towns such as Gramado or Canela.
What was behind this strange behaviour?
This is gaucho country and gauchos have a habit of drinking erva-mate, or chimarrão, a type of tea traditionally drunk from a calabash gourd though a silver straw. Erva denotes a herbal tea, while mate, or mati, denotes the pot i.e. the gourd in which it is served, though also infers the tea itself.
This drink was adopted by the Spanish and Portuguese colonists who found the indigenous guarani drinking it on a regular basis. Gauchos, the cowboys that roamed the grasslands, would (and still do) ride and sip from their gourds while…