Cooking for someone else isn’t always so easy. If you want to impress them, you’ll probably be sweating over the details. But if you’re suddenly feeling lazy, or you’ve run out of time after promising someone a home-cooked meal, what do you do? You buy food from a restaurant and lie, obviously.
In a recent viral Twitter post, someone tried to pass off a Popeyes chicken meal as their own cooking:
User @ImFrom_Paris posted a photo of what’s clearly Popeyes bone-in fried chicken, red beans and rice, french fries, and a biscuit, on a paper plate, and wrote a caption saying, “Ima be a wife one day because I be cooking.”
Another user, @tamarauniquee, called them out by quoting the tweet and saying, “I know Popeyes when I see it.” (I do too.) But that got me seriously thinking, what fast food dishes could you take to pass off as your own? I came up with some ideas so you can pull off the greatest feat of culinary deception of your life. Hell, smuggle some of these things into a cooking competition (Beat Bobby Flay, I’m coming for you) and you’ll be sure to destroy your opponent.
Wendy’s chili by itself, isn’t particularly all that impressive. It’s a watery stew of crumbled burger meat, beans, and a tomato-based soup, which doesn’t exactly have a ton of flavor. But it does have an inoffensive homemade feel to it, as if you tossed together some beef and a bunch of canned shit together. My suggestion is that you drain some of the excess liquid out, sprinkle in some cumin and some cayenne to make it taste like you did it (thanks, Wendy!), and pour it over some macaroni noodles. Top that with a shitload of shredded cheese and some hot sauce, and your dining companion is none the wiser.
This one is going to involve some psychological strategy. Go to Panda Express and pick up a bunch of kung pao chicken and white rice. (If you get the orange chicken and try to pass it off as your own, good luck, because that was a bad decision.) Kung pao chicken is something you can feasibly make at home.
If you have a wok, subtly put a thin layer of oil in it, and maybe toss in some small bits of kung pao chicken to make it look like you were just cooking. (A deep shallow saucepan is your second best bet.) Then, take a cutting board and kitchen knife and place it just-so in the sink where your guest can see it. If you have a rice cooker, plug it into the wall and display it in a spot that makes it clear that you were, uh, recently “using” it.
Congratulations, you just made kung pao chicken!
Olive Garden’s food all tastes like it came out of a bag, a jar, or a microwave, anyway, so what’s easier to pass off as your own than its pasta? Pick your battles carefully—just go for something extremely simple like a pasta in a red meat sauce, which you feasibly made on your own. Ask for the noodles and the sauce separately when you pick it up. Mix the two together and technically you did make it.
If you accidentally serve a breadstick or their signature salad (I can spot that dressing from a mile away), the game is over. Come on, you know better than that.
The Cheesecake Factory is a weirdly interesting place. Did you know they make everything but their cheesecakes from scratch, in-house? Buy one of their Cobb or Caesar salads, throw it in a large mixing bowl, and as a red herring, put an open bottle of dressing that you plucked from your refrigerator door next to it. This is a mind game, you see. Your guest can see that you obviously worked very hard to chop the vegetables yourself, but by displaying your bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch, you’re also reasonably using up a pantry ingredient you already had on hand.
For dessert, serve your guest a cookie from Jimmy John’s. All of the varieties are surprisingly good, though I feel like oatmeal raisin might be the homiest version you can offer. But here’s the deal: You can’t just whip out one cookie and tell your guest that you made it. Go to Jimmy John’s before your friend comes over, and buy a dozen of the same cookies. Then, take your biggest, most beat-up looking Tupperware container that you’d feasibly store cookies in, and carefully put them in there before you bring them out. Maybe break one or two, you know, for realism’s sake.
Oh, and don’t forget to hide the goddamn wrappers in the garbage can. If you’re not going to do the actual work, then you’re going to want to really cover up your tracks.