Sunday, January 31, 2010

My friend Bertha and Amish Friendship Bread

Many years ago in the height of Martha Stewart’s ride to fame, I was fortunate to meet her sister, Bertha, at a church in Fair Oaks. She had all of Martha’s good looks, although slightly older, I guessed, since her grey hair fell in curly wisps around her sour Martha-face. And perhaps she didn’t share Martha’s sense of style, given the red striped socks peaking out from the top of a pair of Sorrel boots. And okay, maybe she didn’t have Martha’s polished vocabulary either or her gift of communication, even though she did have the same monotonous tone of voice, although it was punctuated with a heavy, dull southern drawl. She was speaking to a group of women on the horrors of Friendship Bread, and it was in this presentation that I came to believe that she was probably lying about her identity, but I no longer cared – she was delightfully irreverent, witty and no-nonsense. I contacted her recently and she agreed to be a guest writer on my blog, since I aspire to have those same qualities. So here is a reprint of her talk on Amish Friendship Bread:

Good morning, ladies. I am here to warn you about an evil terrorist plot against America – a plot so insidious, it strikes at the very heart of the American home and threatens the very core and sanctity of that home – the American Housewife. The horror that I am speaking about is Amish Friendship Bread (AFB). Oh, it looks innocent enough, and it’s pretty tasty – it has a starter batter that you keep addin’ flour and sugar to for a period of ten days, then you pass it off on a friend.

Here’s how it starts: your friend just “drops by” one morning with a loaf of Friendship Bread just out of her oven – it smells heavenly and you are feeling all blessed by her act of friendship. But she can’t stay and visit as 'she has a root canal scheduled'. And as she is going (more like bolting)out the door, she quickly thrusts a plastic zip-lock baggy of some pasty goo-like batter into your hand, and a recipe to make more of the bread. You’re startled, but you thank her warmly. Wasn’t that sweet?! But unbeknownst to you, the AFB terrorist plot has already begun:
1) First, you can’t accept the bread without the bag of batter and the recipe. That’s the rule…evidently…cuz I tried to give it back and she wouldn’t take it.
2) AFB tastes good, so you go for it. But dang'd if it doesn’t start multiplying! At the end of 10 days, one bag of batter makes 2 fresh loaves of AFB and 4 new bags of batter to unload on your friends, and still leaving you with one bag to start all over again. Usin' your math skills, you figure out that 4 bags turn into 16, then 265, then 65,000 cute little zip-lock bags full of pasty batter.
3) AFB never ends. You will be baking that (*@&%#^@ bread until the Rapture. You will run out of friends to give it to after the first few batches. I know a widow woman who hasn’t had a date in 3 years cuz she’s always making AFB, and word spread quickly that she would even try to pass it off on dates.
4) AFB saps you of your time and money. Tendin’ that first little bag isn’t bad (you have to “mush” the batter around in the bag daily), but mushin’ 65,000 bags is a little tough. And if that’s not bad enough, you starting passing bad checks at the Piggly-Wiggly just to buy more flour and sugar…heck, some folks have had to quit their jobs!
5) It makes you crazy. The stress of having to mush them bags every day will drive a woman to drink. And if you look around, you will see crazed women all over American neighborhoods with trunk loads of zip-lock bags. You gotta watch out for ‘em – they come up to your door all huggy and friendly, then POW, there’s a baggy thrust into your hands and they run off laughing hysterically. I lost a friend last week – she forgot to mush her baggy and her batter “died”. She was devastated – they found her face down in a bowl of batter.
6) AFB piles up on your counters, freezer, storage lockers – you can’t get rid of it. You run out of friends. Your real friends won’t come over any more, cuz they’re afraid you’re gonna give them a baggy.

And the worst, most insidious part of this plot is

7.) FRIENDSHIP BREAD WILL MAKE YOU FAT. Women develop Friendship Bread thighs. They forget how to really cook, as an endless stream of Friendship Bread “variety meals” grace American tables – turkey with Friendship Bread Stuffing, Meatloaf and Scalloped Friendship Bread Pudding. Their husbands leave them in favor of AFB "Non-Friends".

But, I tell you girlfriends, what’s really pathetic about this whole plot is that is robs women like you and me of our intelligence and cognitive thinking abilities - why in God’s name don’t we just throw it out in the first place???? My advice to all of you is slam the door on anyone carrying a loaf of fresh bread – she has a zip-lock bag in her purse and she is the Antichrist!

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Thanks for visiting my blog. I appreciate all those who share and leave their comments very much. Laurel

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