Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Amish Bread Scheme

Although I couldn't see myself living it, I find much to admire in the Amish lifestyle. Their deep devotion to God, their wilful withdrawal from society, the self-reliance of their communities; all of these, and much more, are worthy of praise and respect. But there is one element of Amish life that can bring terror to the strongest soul [which mine most certainly is not]; I speak of Amish Friendship Bread.
Oh, it starts innocently enough. A friend, neighbor, or co-worker hands you a food-storage bag, filled with a colorless semi-liquid goo. It comes with instructions: "Day 1: mush the bag. Day 2: mush the bag. Day 3...", but you get the idea. Midway through its 10-day birthing cycle, you're called upon to "feed" the mixture [for the record, it lives on flour, sugar and milk. Sounds like one of the insects in Through The Looking Glass]. All in all, though, it's a fairly entertaining process [and good physical therapy if you ever dislocate your elbow. Trust me on this one...].
Day ten arrives, and you feel pride that you've followed the simple instructions that came with the bag. You happily add more flour, more sugar, more milk. Then a dawning realization kicks in, as you read the instructions again: "Pour one cup of the mixture into each of four food-storage bags. Three of these should be shared with friends or neighbors, with one kept for yourself". Think about this for a minute; it's one thing to offer someone a loaf of home-baked bread. But you're offering them 10 days of commitment, followed by a desperate scramble to find three more players in this never-ending game, followed by another 10 days of commitment, searching for three new players, etc.I don't know that the Amish invented the pyramid scheme, but they certainly have perfected it!
Let it be said that the bread is delicious, if a bit over-sugared [I'd cut back on the amount used in the baking stage; I think the "feeding" instructions are not to be modified]. Let it also be said that, if my sister the Mathematician were here, I'd ask her how quickly and how far the chain could travel in 10 days, a month, six months (I suspect the numbers would hurt my head...). Then again, there are worse "viruses" to be spread than warm bread [more of a cake, actually]. And there are certainly worse things the world could be covered in than home-baked treats.


Margaret said...

Ahhh -- yes! I know this virus of which you speak! Someone tried to infect me with it, but alas, mine developed some kind of mold and had to be disposed of.

I did like the finished product that the virus-passer provided as "proof of the pudding".

Very well written post!

FeelingFlirty said...

I have never had an Amish bread virus. Matter of fact, I don't think there are any Amish living in New Zealand.

Bugger that.