Signora Pina, 78 years old, on Christmas Eve morning in Sant’Antioco, Sardinia waiting for the wood fire oven to finish heating in preparation for making her famous pane al pomodoro. Signora Pina has been baking since she was a child and is one of the few in her community to still retain knowledge of the traditional ways of the craft. She has been teaching her daughter, but so far nobody has come close to Signora Pina's creations. She used to bake every single day, but age has forced her to slow down, and the ritual has now been relegated to special occasions.
The baking of the bread is a time-consuming affair. After raising the dough overnight, the fire in the oven must be lit three times in order to heat the ancient stones, and the ashes brushed away carefully each time. The hearth is perfumed with bunches of mastic leaves, and the temperature in the bakery has to remain just right while the loaves bake. The room becomes very hot, and every time someone steps out through the door for some fresh air, there is a chorus of "Chiudi la porta! Chiudi la porta!".  We help chop up bushels of fresh basil, which Signora Pina carefully folds into the soft pockets of dough along with a mixture of olive oil, pungent garlic and plump cherry tomatoes.
And then we sit and wait. A gecko, who has taken to living in the warm spot just behind the wall clock, flits across the whitewashed stone to hide in a dark corner. We decide to go out and gather pine cones, and take to stripping them apart in order to get to the precious pine nuts inside. I feel like a squirrel. 
After an hour the bread is done, and then  we are already returning home, our laps full of warm treasures to serve at Christmas lunch. The day is still just barely begun.
Image description: a black and white photograph cropped in square format.   A portrait of an elderly Sardinian woman. She is sitting in an old fashioned bakery kitchen on a stool covered with striped cloth. She is positioned centrally in the image, her body in profile facing towards the right, with her face slightly tilted upwards and past camera right. Her hands rest in her lap. Her hair is short, dark and slightly wavy. Her expression is intense in concentration, perhaps in thought or looking at someone outside the frame. She wears a light coloured wool sweater nipped from use, the sleeves neatly rolled up for work. A striped floral apron is tied at her waist over her dark trousers, and she wears a scarf around her neck. Behind her is a large traditional stone oven of the type used for baking bread, the white masonry blackened from decades of dedicated use. A fire is blazing inside the hearth now. An analogue clock on the wall declares the time nearly quarter past 10. Below this photograph there are 3 more black and white images from Signora Pina's kitchen: first, a close up shot of a loaf of bread nestled in white fabric. In the background, out of focus, Signora Pina is facing away with her back towards the camera, bent over another table working. The second image is of Signora Pina bending forward over a large terracotta bowl full of juicy cherry tomatoes. She is scooping up a large handful of the tomatoes, the juices dripping over her hands. She has tied a scarf over her head. Finally, the last image is of a large pile of finished loaves, well over a dozen. In the background, old steel pots and pans hang in neat rows along the wall.  End description.
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