The Santos farm on San Cristobal is a beautiful, secluded place. I was first invited there this spring when arranging a class trip to learn how to make yani queques (sounds like Johnny cakes). The past few years we went to Maria’s house in Bahia Roja. But there is something magical about the new experience on her farm.
To get there, you travel by boat up a mangrove creek to the base of a grassy hill. Once you make the short climb up the hill, we were met by Maria. Everything was prepped and ready to go for our bread making class. Students watched as she mixed the ingredients and started kneading the dough. Maria then slapped it out on the table and started to work. Her decades of experience making bread make the work quick and light for her. She then offered to let students work and knead the dough. Maria supervised us and her granddaughter, who is learning to bake bread too. Under Maria’s keen eyes, we worked and prepped all the dough before letting it rise. Once it was ready, it was taken to a giant pot over a fire outside the house. Once in the pot, it was covered with an old piece of tin roof with coals burning on top. In a short time, the bread was baked and ready to taste!
When I first met Maria, I would look for her and her warm, fluffy yani queques fresh out of the pila. I first met her when I worked with the Give and Surf pre-kinder teachers in Bahia Honda and Bahia Roja. My friends told me she was the best bread baker around. Now I get to share this experience with SFS students studying here. I enjoy connecting SFS students to community members I have known and interacted with for years, and I hope to continue to do so for many more to come.