OPINION: Look, remember that ginger beer bug that people would give you and you had to feed it with sugar and stuff to end up with bottles of dubious fizz, asks Pat Veltkamp Smith in And Another Thing.
Well, here's one thing worse that's doing the rounds right now - and if it hasn't come your way, just wait, it will.
A friend will pass this on, it's to make bread, and it is fair enough to say when half the supermarket bread is marked gluten-free it is fine to get one that's not - if that particular allergy is not yours.
Only the Amish, a quiet reclusive people in the United States, know what starts this bread so don't give it all away or you cannot make more - same story with the ginger beer bug, although I cannot recall anyone wanting to make more at the time.
For the bread, what you are given is a squashy bag of mushy starter and some directions which need to be read with care.
The directions begin with day one and it is not until day 10 that bread-making as we know it starts.
For five days you nudge this squidgy plastic package, which you leave on the bench so as not to overlook it.
On the fifth day you add a cup each of flour, sugar and milk and continue mushing the mixture daily until day 10 when, wow, the action starts and more good things - oil, cinnamon, eggs, salt, instant pudding, vanilla - go in.
There are warnings about using metal spoons or bowls but that aside it is clear sailing.
You prepare pans, line with paper, turn on the oven and bake the bread.
Well, sorry, but just before you do all that, take out four cups of the mix, a cup for each of four plastic zip-lock bags: One for yourself and three others to be dated and, with instructions, given to friends who will bless you. Yeah, right, they will.
They are chosen, as you were, trusted to keep the faith, not break the circle of friendship implicit in sharing this making of Amish friendship bread.
It is better than the chain where by you sent someone a hanky and hoped to get 237 back. It is better than a don't-break-this-chain threatening letter.
Bread is the staff of life.
- The Southland Times