Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Open Mates a Possible Health Risk... May be Detrimental to Preservation

As always a bit on the hysterical side--I know.

The question comes to us, however, as to whether there are any gourds that you can get "covers" for. People at work would like to use a mate--everyone should--however according to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) rules the drinks of "food employees"* must be covered. It has also come to our attention that most libraries have similar rules to prevent the imminent destruction of preserved collections from spillage.

Brown university (to name drop a prestigious college of which we have no connection whatsoever--except for having written away for a college application once upon a time) has a well written little warning that might just as well suffice for any library who chooses to stand up to this obvious threat. I'm certain most librarians would rally behind such prose. You don't have to read it. I put it in italics, not to make it obvious that credit for its admonitious nature be pointed elsewhere, but so you can ignore it altogether... not because I don't agree with their principle--but just because I'd like to get on toward the solution to the problem rather than just dwelling upon the negative.
Here it comes... get ready to skip... Weeee!

The presence of food and drink in the library is detrimental to the maintenance and preservation of the collections. For this reason, food is not allowed in the library except in designated areas. Beverages are allowed in the library only when contained in an appropriate container. This policy applies to all libraries, except the John Hay Library where food and drink are allowed only in the front foyer during receptions.Beverages may be consumed in the library and are restricted to appropriate containers which are defined as:An appropriate container is any cup or bottle with a lid or cap designed to minimize spillage. Lidded travel mugs and sports bottles with screw-on or pop-up tops are examples of the preferred types of covered beverage containers for use in the library. Other containers may not meet this standard and could be unacceptable for use in the library. Library staff will have final approval over any sort of beverage container allowed in the library and reserve the right to exclude any container for any reason.

That was fun; now that you've landed, get ready for the USDA Sanitation Performance Standards Compliance Guide quote.
It's a real skipper.
Get ready...

2-401.11 Eating, Drinking, or Using Tobacco.
(A) Except as specified in (B) of this section, an employee shall eat, drink, or use any form of tobacco only in designated areas where the contamination of exposed food; clean equipment, utensils, and linens; unwrapped single-service and single-use articles; or other items needing protection can not result.
(B) A food employee may drink from a closed beverage container if the container is handled to prevent contamination of:
(1) The employee's hands;
(2) The container; and
(3) Exposed food; clean equipment, utensils, and linens; and unwrapped single-service and single-use articles.

I hope you didn't read that. I didn't even understand some of it. But I'm here to tell you I have the solution to the big problem you probably weren't even previously aware of. The Porta Mate. The Mate Termo. The mate and insulated flask and bombilla sipping straw all-in-one. [Photo at beginning of article.]

None of the traditional mates would work with a cover very well (due to the fact that you need to pour water into the gourd every serving) but the "Porta-Mate" has a cover built in. The item is a sealed unit. If it falls over you can nab it up before the the librarian can even pull down her pearl-strapped pince nez.

The foam-insulated bottom portion holds the hot water, the top portion holds the tea, and the cover is fixed with a bombilla straw. The protruding straw is the only open part. When suction is made on the straw it draws the hot water up and over the tea just as in a normal mate. It's hard to go wrong with this method of serving mate--as long as the water is not too hot. If you are using it in an office setting it may be refilled for another session; or for travel it is excellent... but assuming you may have hit the open road or hopped on an increasingly "what- the-hell, who-cares" airline you won't be overly worried about the preservation of historical libraries or contamination of the world's food supply.

How does it steep the tea? As with a traditional mate and bombilla--there is no "steeping" in the normal sense of the word. The mate is filled 2/3 full of tea--into which is poured an amount of water; only enough to not wet all of the yerba (tea) in the gourd. Often people who have not drunk mate in the traditional manner have a hard time understanding that we are not filling the gourd with water and just putting in a small portion of tea--as in a mug with tea bag; this is not the case. The water is poured and drunk down within a few seconds of pouring... and the water is poured onto the nearly full gourd of tea leaf.

The beauty of the porta mate, in terms of its function, is that it does this filling in the same way every time (no user error!). The hot water in fact is "dripped" over the yerba in the top container, flows through and infuses the tea, and is then drawn up through the straw (with filter incorporated in it) and into the mouth. You won't need anything else but tea--though the sucking sound may raise the eyebrows of the irksome librarian

Whew! I feel better; knowing the Great Yerbini has nearly saved the world again! I will retire to a snug bed and give my exclamation marks a rest for the day!

*I'm hoping they don't use the word-construct of "food employees" like we use the term "feed corn" or "dairy cows" or "breeding stock": soylent green!! Ahhh!

[Sleep you little excalmation marks!!! ._._._._._ Ahhh; that's so much better._._._._]

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