Every country has its own customs and local culture, filled with community rituals. A recent article has remarked on a few Argentine manners which could surprise foreigners within a work environment – and obviously, the list begins with yerba mate!
Apart from being enthusiastic, affectionate and used to working flexitime, one of the items which astonishes foreigners in Argentina is the local habit of sharing a round of mate with their co-workers. In Argentina and Uruguay it is rather common to see employees having mate while serving the clients, for instance, at a bank or a store.
Charles is from France and has lived in Argentina for six years. Before arriving, he was totally unfamiliar with yerba mate, and its bitter flavour was unknown to him. Nowadays, he takes mate every single morning, above all when somebody offers him at work (Charles works freelance in digital marketing from a coworking space in Buenos Aires). “I love the fact that you can drink mate for a long time. A round of mate with my thermos can go on for an hour or more, which is very good compared to a cup of tea or coffee that cools down after a while”. For him, the closest thing to the mate custom is the Japanese tea ceremony but, in any case, there is nothing like that in Europe.
Business clothes, set rules, a professional attitude in the workspace and… no yerba mate! For Argentinians, adapting to the work environment abroad is not simple either. Even though coffee and tea are widespread all around the globe, having these drinks at the office is generally done in a more “individual” and discreet manner.
Giuliano is 28 and in 2017 he left Argentina and moved to Denmark, where yerba mate is not sold, although Scandinavians are “heavy caffeine consumers”, he states. Nevertheless, he keeps the habit alive with the yerba he gets from his family. His local friends consider it a kind of tea and they are curious about the mate gourd and the metal straw: “One time, in Sweden I was asked if it was a pipe”
It is worth pointing out that mate is gaining more and more popularity beyond Latin America.