A favorite procrastination tool of students and jobless young adults everywhere, “Friends” has been a staple of our TV diet for well over a decade. Since ending in 2004, the show has found a new lease of life in endless Comedy Central reruns, introducing entirely new audiences to one of the sitcom’s most iconic cliques.
There are many moments that have since become foodie favorites. From turkeys on heads, to Brad Pitt’s turbulent relationship with complex carbohydrates, to Ross’ Moist Maker, Friends constantly found new and innovative ways to make food funny. Few of the show’s recipes, however, are more evocative and ultimately disturbing than Rachel’s notorious trifle.
Without being blessed with Monica’s natural culinary flair, Rachel often found herself relegated to brief cameos in the kitchen. Yet, in this season six episode, she was finally given a chance to prove her worth, as Monica agreed to let her take on the challenge of preparing a traditional Thanksgiving dessert to round off the meal in style.
Gleefully the challenge is accepted. Unfortunately for all concerned, the recipe book lets Rachel down – two pages are stuck together, resulting in a half trifle, half shepherd’s pie abomination.
The full recipe features lady fingers, custard, jam, beef sautéed with peas and onions, more custard, bananas and whipped cream. This sweet and savoury crime against cooking is whole heartedly rejected by the assembled party, with the exception of Joey, who points out that custard, jam and beef are all “gooood”. Even considering the modern penchant for dessert and main course mashups, this trifle disaster seems a step too far for all but the most ardent foodie fanatic.
Despite Ross’ review that the mutant pudding “tastes like feet”, the abominable trifle nonetheless seems to hold a morbid fascination for cooks at the more masochistic end of the spectrum. With all logic appearing to point to the contrary, YouTuber Binging with Babish exemplifies this sadistic trope and gives the recipe a second chance – taking it upon himself to recreate Frankenstein’s monster.
True to tradition, Babish copies Rachel’s original recipe exactly from scratch, before sampling, and immediately spitting “trifle pie” all over his kitchen floor. Thus, our suspicions about the demonic dessert are confirmed.
Undeterred, Babish then sets out to create an edible version of Rachel’s terrible trifle. For his own recipe, he focuses on emphasising the savoury components of the original, using layers of chuck steak, cornbread, raspberry sauce and béchamel, topped with a layer of fried plantain.
The result is an edible, if decidedly average-tasting, dish that looks like something from deep within the shepherd’s pie fossil record, before natural selection and foodielution had killed off such unfit recipes. Binging with Babish’s full video can be found below.
The lesson here appears to be that some recipes are so abhorrent to nature that even the most skilled chefs are incapable of saving them. If something sounds this horrible and everyone on screen is telling you it’s horrible, the chances are that it is horrible. While hilarious, after rigorous testing, the meat trifle can now be safely confined to the pits of foodie Hell.