Last winter, Mannat Malik and Baldeep Dhaliwal, two friends living in Baltimore, were drinking tea and brainstorming ways to ward off the winter blues. Their solution was a little project—competing in Baltimore’s annual Small Foods Party, a smorgasbord of dishes painstakingly scaled down to dollhouse size and made with real food—no fondant here. The pair, along with friends Akshay Srivastava and Scott Albert, took home the event’s grand prize for their Sikh dinner in miniature: three hundred servings of paneer, roti, and kebabs, plated on tiny, 3D-printed platters.
Barbara Wilgus, who, with her friend Peggy Hoffman, won in 2016 with a Southern-inspired Ladies Who Lunch spread and now helps organize the event (on February 8 this year), says Small Foods has grown substantially from its humble beginnings in 2006 as a one-off party thrown by a handful of artists. Now a few hundred people fill the American Visionary Art Museum to eat dime-sized cheeseburgers and fortune cookies printed with text that requires a magnifying glass.
Some of Wilgus’s favorite entries over the years include matchbox-sized TV dinners and made-to-order fried eggs dispensed out of a dropper—not to mention her own winning entry, a hostess spread complete with itty-bitty cheese straws and thimbles of tomato aspic. Her advice for first-time attendees? “Well, I’d say bring your appetite, but the food is pretty small,” she says. “So, maybe have a snack beforehand.”
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