Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Friendship Yeast

Here's how it was explained to me: You're given a sourdough starter by a friend. After 10 days of feeding it with flour, sugar and water it should have quadrupled. You divide it into 4, give 3 sections to friends and use the last one to bake with. In this case the recipe suggested is for a German Apple Cake, which is why the yeast is called Herman. Sounds like a funguy!

Yeast reproduces asexually by budding. This means that each yeast starter is a clone, and each cake will be a clone. Cloned German cakes, spreading through the population, numbers increasing at an exponential rate[1] - what could go wrong?

A swift google suggests that the canonical form of this living chain letter is Amish Friendship Bread. In fact, the article notes that there is a 2011 novel of such a bread spreading through a town and taking away their free will to become a giant asexual amorphous blob effecting the lives of everyone it passes through. This sounds like it could make an interesting Robert Altman style movie, or maybe just some kind of rubbish feelgood Hollywood tripe. Either's good, although I'd rather watch the former.

[1] This would be literally exponential, not metaphorically.

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