Oh, it starts innocently enough. One sweet friend, shoving a plastic bag of mysterious goop and a piece of paper in your direction, with a half-crazed plea of, "Here! I have some Amish Friendship Bread Starter! Would you like one?"
Unwittingly, in a moment of weakness, dreaming of fresh, warm cinnamon bread, you accept the gift.
Little do you know.
The theory is that you keep the bag of "starter" in your kitchen and follow the instructions to. the. letter. Ten days later you not only bake perfectly yummy bread, but also are able to pass on bags of this "starter" to other friends, who can then begin their own journey to Amish goodness.
The reality is somewhat different.
First, the ominous instructions: "Do NOT use metal spoons. Do NOT use metal bowls. Do NOT refrigerate. ONLY the Amish know how to make this starter. . . . . " You read, cross your heart, and promise to obey lest the Amish Vampiress of the Tribulation visit her wrath upon your kitchen.
You place the bag in the corner of your kitchen, and promptly forget all about it. Until, of course, you realize that the thing is about to explode open due to the fermentation process. Frantically, you let the air out and promise yourself to pay more attention to the instructions. Each day, you dutifully mash the bag, massaging the magic elixir, all the while ignoring the taunts of your dear husband, who wonders why anyone would subject their "friends" to this strange custom.
Day 6, you feed the beast. Let there be more fermentation! Let there be more gas bubbles! Let there be more guilt, since now I have 6 days of my life invested in this bag of goop!
The mashing continues; the excitement builds. You lose count of the days, just knowing you have to mash and and mix the beastie each day, lest it come to smite the kitchen with a curse.
You wake up one morning. Mind you, it is without fail the morning of the busiest, most insane day you have had or will have again for the next six months**. Stumble into the kitchen, pour a cuppa, glance in the corner, and realize. . . .
It's Day Ten. D-Day.
Yup, on the day you can least afford to, you Must Make The Bread. This is non-negotiable. Don't ask what would happen if you waited one more day. No one who has made bread on Day Eleven has ever lived to tell about it.
Inwardly cursing the Amish lady who thought up this method of torturing Englishers, you mix and bake the bread. Carefully, of course, following the directions to the letter - the directions which include making extra bags of starter to pass on to your friends . . . . . . .
Pull the bread out of the oven.
Realize that you're 20 minutes late for your first appointment, and you won't even be home to eat it.
Inwardly promise to never, never, NEVER accept a bag of starter again.
Except for the bread . . . . . it was really yummy. Very good. Delicious, in fact. You really must have some. I insist.
(insert maniacal laughter here. . . . . )
*Ahem* Would anyone like a bag of starter?
**(In my case, the day you must be out of the house for 13 hours because the carpet installation guys will decide to work until 10:40 at night. True Story.)