A recipe for friendship

I was inspired this week by two social media posts that were definite foodie fodder… they were a sort of edible chain letter and they made me think about the traditions of food with friendship.

These posts were ones I bet you have seen. The first one was for the infamous Neiman Marcus cookie: as the story goes a simple oatmeal chocolate chip cookie rose to fame because a woman who ordered the recipe for it after tasting it at a Neiman Marcus café was charged $250.

As revenge, she sent the recipe to all of her friends. I think this was one of the first e-mails I received on my first Apple computer.

The Neiman Marcus cookie story has been around for many years and when I looked into it as an urban legend, I discovered variations of it have been floating around for about 50 years, using different recipes and different companies.

(There was one published in a cookbook in the 1950s that told of someone being charged the exorbitant fee of $25 for a fudge cake recipe.)

The attraction of course, is that we get to support the maligned individual and manage to “stick it to the man” at the same time.

Way back when, I felt privileged that the person chose me as one of the friends who would receive this prized recipe. I became part of an inner circle, and then I could share the wealth with other friends too.

It’s amazing that food can be a symbol of such status, even just with a recipe.

The other post I saw was about a friendship cake. This too, is a long legend. It is a yeast bread recipe that takes 10 days to make, and then a cake is to be made with one of the four cups of the bread dough.

You keep one cup aside to retain some of the “starter” and then pass along a cup to two friends, with the recipe for the cake.

There are many variations on the history of friendship cakes, but the one I liked the most was in the oft-used name of Amish Friendship Bread (same recipe).

An elder and authority on Amish history was asked about the origin of this recipe and she replied that the tradition was simply to share bread or sourdough starter with those less fortunate or sick.

It seems the idea of passing it to a friend simply to honour the friendship was just an extension of that gesture.

I know that many people in this day and age don’t have time 10 days in a row to make a sourdough starter. Many people follow gluten-free diets and have other food allergies, so they likely they wouldn’t be able to enjoy the cake. But that doesn’t mean we can’t share.

The fact that we take the time to send the recipe says something, doesn’t it? People used to send “care packages” of food by snail mail, but you can’t send food through the internet.

I guess this is just the latest iteration of us trying to still be friends. You can live without friends, but who would want to?

One of my favourite childhood authors said it best:

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather is one of those things that give value to survival." —  C. S. Lewis

Whether you use one of these edible chain letters or you just drop by with a bit of something, I think the gesture of sharing something homemade does retain a certain special quality.

If you’d like to have a recipe that’s easy to make and share, my Chocolate Zucchini Cake is a good one.

Friendship is about sharing; it is a necessary ingredient in the recipe of life.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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