May 2, 2014  •  Category:

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?”

dup maté storeStanding in front of a storefront sign “We have the best maté in town!”

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. 

Basic Utensils:

  • Kettle
  • 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
  • Spoon


  • 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.

 IMG_1701A traditional array of roasted pumpkin and watermelon seeds and roasted chickpeas were served.


Photo of the couple from this site.




8 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Fawn @ Cowen Park Ki says:

    I love mate! I find it gives me a great boost of energy without that classic coffee crash. How funny to think of it being drank and loved in Lebanon…but I guess tea lovers are tea lovers!

  2. Gabi says:

    “Will he switch to maté?” – I love that one :-))

  3. Susan says:

    What a wonderful tradition and I love your silver-rimmed gourd vessel. So pretty! I think George Clooney’s fiance could be your sister or cousin at least 🙂

  4. Shay says:

    To me, the most amusing online article was from They announced the engagement of internationally-prominent lawyer Amal Alamuddin, listing all of her many accomplishments, and then finished by saying slyly — “Her husband to be is an actor and director who played Kip Howard on the television mystery series, “Murder, She Wrote.”

  5. Oui, Chef says:

    My youngest son developed a taste for maté while on an extensive hiking trip in Idaho 2 summers ago. It turns out his group leader was a big drinker of the stuff, and so now is my Jack.

  6. Nuts about food says:

    I never knew about the connection between maté and Lebanon. That is a funny story (about families and Clooney) :o)

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