One of my coworkers gave me a bag of "Amish Friendship Bread Starter" on Friday. This is apparently a basic sourdough starter, passed around with a truly horrendous recipe for quick bread (why one needs a sourdough starter for a quickbread recipe that also includes baking powder is beyond me) that includes an entire package of vanilla pudding mix (oh, right: that's why you need all the leavening you can get).
Now, leaving aside the ridiculous idea that the Amish give each other plastic sacks of sourdough starter, or that they cook any recipes that involve pudding mix, I have my doubts that this even a severely bastardized Amish recipe, especially given the stories I've now read about it on the Internet.
For one thing, for people living the way the Amish do, it's not very friendly to give somebody with an established household a sourdough starter. It'd be like saying they're a disorganized dolt who can't keep a starter alive. Imagine, if you will, if somebody gave you a package of yeast. That's how odd it would be. Also, the thing Amish people give in friendship is actual cooked food, not ingredients. The idea of giving somebody a kit to cook with is fine and well in an average American household, but considering that the Amish cook everything from scratch, ingredients are not quite as romantic for them. So this is clearly not an Amish tradition at all.
That aside, I accepted the starter from the coworker, and will be using it to make some bread. There are some changes I will be making to the concept, though.