One by one, the dishes took their places on makeshift buffet areas: an enclosed radiator and a low storage cabinet covered with butcher paper. Ratio-wise, the number of foods to try and mouths to feed was almost even. But Dunn wasn’t worried about excessive amounts of food leading to many leftovers or stomachaches.
“This is more about tasting all the different things than getting disgustingly full,” he said.
The key is to take small portions of everything and then go back for what you like the most, according to Sue Davis, a friend who lives in the District and has been at all four Fakesgivings.
That seemed to be the approach of all the guests, who tucked in after Dunn and Patton quickly ran down the roster of what they had made.
This year’s magazine recipes came from eight sources: Fine Cooking, Martha Stewart Living, Everyday Food, Food & Wine, Cook’s Illustrated, Bon Appetit, Food Network Magazine and Saveur. Patton and Dunn decided on their menu by shuffling recipe-name index cards.
“This is not how I would pick a menu” for most other occasions, Patton said.
The selections met with his mother’s approval nonetheless. “In some ways, I think the dishes are more compatible than they have been in previous years,” Lewis said.
“There’s not a throwaway this year,” said District resident Drew Porterfield, who has been at the couple’s Fakesgiving three times. “They’re all pretty good.”
Patton’s sister wasn’t surprised to hear how many people liked the sweet potatoes with bourbon and maple from Bon Appetit. She said she knew it was going to be good as soon as she started putting together its coffee-based glaze. She took particular pride, because it was the first time she got to be in charge of a dish from beginning to end.
Other success stories were less expected. Dunn and Patton had been prepared to pan a tortilla-chip-and-chorizo stuffing from Food Network Magazine. It turned out to be a sleeper hit. On the other hand, Saveur’s oyster-and-sausage stuffing sounded better on slick paper; Dunn was not a fan of its fishy taste, while Patton said it probably didn’t justify the $30 spent on its bivalves alone.
An informal poll turned up other favorites, such as Lewis’s creamed greens, a mushroom-and-leek bread pudding from Ina Garten via Food Network Magazine and a dark, complex sorghum-sweetened chocolate pecan pie from Martha Stewart Living.
Then there were the Brussels sprouts, which more than one person compared to popcorn.
“I’ve stolen that already” for real Thanksgiving, Washingtonian Brian Johnson said.
Much like Bitten Word followers, Fakesgiving attendees look to Patton and Dunn’s feast for inspiration. When asked about favorite dishes from previous years, the answer was nearly universal: The 2011 salted caramel six-layer chocolate cake from Martha Stewart Living. Eyes practically rolled back in ecstasy. Owen Ryan and Trevor McLaren of the District enjoyed the cake so much they considered serving it at their recent wedding. In the end, they decided not to burden their caterer with the nearly half-day project.
Most of Patton and Dunn’s friends have to read about the Fakesgiving taste tests on the blog like everybody else. It’s a delicate dance deciding who gets to come, Dunn said. After all, if a regular can’t make it one year and a newbie comes instead, who gets the seat next year? Several of this year’s guests took pride in never having missed a party; others said they specifically arranged their plans to be able to attend.
“It’s an amazing tradition,” McLaren said.
He might have just secured his 2013 invite.
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First comes Fakesgiving