Fancy Fast Food

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If you thought fast food had to be lowbrow, think again. Not when you can enjoy tapas from White Castle, sushi from Popeye's or quiche from Burger King. Of course, chains don't actually serve those delicacies, but a new website offers the next best thing: teaching budget foodies how to take standard drive-thru fare and slice, strip, mix and otherwise recreate it to look gourmet. Fancy Fast Food offers meticulously detailed, elegantly photographed recipes that can transform, say, a Big Mac Extra Value Meal into "McSteak & Potatoes" (the "potatoes" being the hamburger bun and french fries pureed in a food processor.) The large Coke, of course, gets served in a wine glass.

Erik R. Trinidad, a New York advertising designer and amateur food stylist, created the site to poke fun at the self-important culture of food connoisseurship. And it has become consuming: "I spend a lot of time online just looking at the menus," he says. "Even when I cook for myself now, I try to make it look fancy." Trinidad welcomes submissions to the site, but he has one rule — everything must come from the same fast-food restaurant. That leads to some creative solutions: need soy sauce for that chicken "sushi"? Heat the Coke you bought on a stove until it turns thick and saucy, and presto. New recipes he's planning include a Subway sandwich lasagna and a Domino's pizza stir fry. Others are doubtlessly on the way, as he was just offered a book deal to publish his recipes.

While the upgraded meals are virtually unrecognizable, Trinidad says the concoctions taste basically the same as the original grub, albeit with different textures. His favorite menu choice is the "Tacobellini" — a pair of Burrito Supremes sliced to resemble tortellini — though he's not that crazy about fast food to begin with. In fact, one New Year's resolution was to stop eating it entirely except for road trips, but "this thing kind of broke that rule."