Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Friends should break bread, not share it

By Karrie McAllister

While visiting a friend a few weeks ago, she served the most delicious bread. It was moist, sweet, and I could easily see in my husband’s eyes that he was falling in love.
And like good husbands should, he overly complimented my friend on her baking. [Note: Any guy who wants to earn bonus points should always compliment a woman’s cooking, regardless of just how much you have to lie.]
And then he said those dreaded words, “Karrie, you’ve GOT to get this recipe.”
What he didn’t know was that this was no ordinary bread. This was the infamous, the notorious, the legendary Friendship Bread.
For those of you who have not yet been blessed with this delicacy that starts with a bag of spoiling goo, let me explain. A concoction of milk, sugar, and flour which has been added to and divided for years ends up at a friend of yours. She then follows the directions and after serving you the delicious bread, gives you your very own bag of goo, which is the ‘starter’ for the bread.
Once you have received your bag of goo, you keep it on your counter so that all the world can see that you’ve got a fermenting sludge that releases gases that you are caring for as if it were a pet. You’ve got to mush it daily for 10 days, and on the 5th day, you feed it.
(What’s next? I wondered. Take it out for a walk?)
On day five, with five days to go, you add yet more flour, sugar, and milk. Keep in mind that if you left a cup of milk on your counter for five days and then tried to eat it, the results would be anything but delicious. But for whatever reason, in the spirit of Friendship, the curdling, growing mixture will not only taste good, but it won’t kill you either.
After feeding your starter, you continue to mush it and let the toxic gases out of the bag until day ten rolls around. That is the day of baking. You are supposed to divide the goo into four, use one to bake yourself some Friendship Bread, and then put the other three sections into baggies and pass on this wonderful stuff to three of your friends, or three people you can sucker into doing this. Whichever you can find first.
For me, this was the hardest part. I’m not one of those people who are always asking things of my friends when I know they will say yes just because they are, well, my friends. I don’t do home parties (although I’m fabulous at shopping at them), and I do not participate in email chain letters (and am now up to probably 25,000 years of bad luck for not forwarding things on.)
I’m sure some of my friends would have actually enjoyed a bit of the goo, I just couldn’t bring myself to ask. If I asked, I know they would graciously accept the sludge and then for the next 10 days I’d be walking around in a cloud of guilt because for certain they’d be mumbling bad things about this goo, just as I had been yelling at mine for the entire time it lived on my counter.
Therefore, when it came time to pass on my bags of goo, I certainly did not want to burden any of my friends or even people willing to be suckered in with the mushing and feeding and baking. So I did the only thing I could think of.
I baked the entire starter’s worth of bread.
Six tasty loaves of bread and a bunch of muffins because I was feeling inventive.
And as a result of my being a coward, I now have a freezer full of Friendship Bread. Some I have given away, some we have eaten, but the majority rests in a deep freeze, waiting to be pulled out in the event that a friend stops by for a coffee, a conversation, and maybe a slice or two.
I just hope she doesn’t ask for the recipe.

1 comments:

Reeni said...

Can you believe that I left Shell's on Sunday with a bag of goo in my hand!..Isn't there some way to hurry this mess along?

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