Lebanon is such a small country (around 4 million people) that when people meet you the first question that pops is: What is your family name and which part of the country are you from; in order to determine if there is a likelihood of being related, even distantly, or as a way to sum-up your background. Both women and men are given their father’s first name as a middle name, to pin-point exactly which family (in the olden days, tribe) one comes from.
So when the entire world found out about Georges Clooney getting engaged to a beautiful brunette from Lebanese origin, locals here were scurrying trying to find out which family she was related to. Turns out the family is originally from the Chouf Mountains, a town called Baakline, predominently Druze. Druze in Lebanon have embraced the South American drink, maté and brought it back home with them upon their return from Argentina (or another Latin American country). Social media and print in Lebanon commented on the engagement humorously alluding to George Clooney’s former endorsement of nespresso: “Will he switch to maté?”
Maté is more than just an herbal drink (with numerous health benefits, similar to green tea). It is a ritual, a communal ceremony. The drink, served in a gourd and sipped through a silver pipe, is passed around; conversation flows, with every participant feeling a sense of warmth and conviviality.
- Mate – Gourd (I recommend one made out of stainless steel or an easily cleaned material rather than the actual gourd which requires a special cleaning technique)
- Bombilla – straw
- Sugar Bowl
- Yerba mate
- Cold water
- Hot, but not boiling, water
Sugar or honey (optional)
- Lemon peel to clean the straw 1.Pour 2 Tbsp of yerba mate in the gourd. Heat the water till very warm (not boiling). Add the water to the gourd. Add sugar if desired and pass it around, cleaning the silver pipe each time with the lemon peel.
Photo of the couple from this site.