There are many things you can count on each Saturday afternoon: a visit from your neighbor, the kids hitting the sports field (or hanging around the mall with their mates), and a familiar episode, or six, of Friends on Netflix while curled up on the sofa before, during, and after dinner.
Friends has been delighting us since 1994 when it first launched on NBC, and we've been through all the ups and downs, marriages (mainly Ross), breakups, and "we were on a break(s)!" (again, Ross) with Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Joey and Phoebe ever since - despite the series ending over 10 years ago.
Along with being one of the most successful sitcoms of all time, the show has inspired everyday phrases, coffee houses, quizzes, sitcoms and even a festival - FriendsFest, across the pond in England - and today, it is inspiring our menu. While we wish Monica was here herself to play hostess and cook us up a feast, we feel confident that you can make these recipes yourselves. Here are 20 dishes, sides and condiments that you should serve during your next Friends marathon - and should have definitely been on the Central Perk menu (warning: spoilers ahead).
20 The Meatball Sub
Joey had some great loves throughout the series, from Hugsy to Emma's nanny, and those few episodes in Season 9 when he fell for Rachel. However, his one, true love was always food. He unapologetically stole desserts from dates, feasted on meals ordered on behalf of the entire friendship group and refused to share with anyone (JOEY DOESN'T SHARE FOOD).
Joey's favorite food was, of course, sandwiches, and there was one in particular he was willing to risk his life for: the meatball sub - a delicious combination of meatballs, melted cheese and marinara sauce in a sub roll. In fact, when Joey thought the group were being fired at while in a ride-along with Phoebe's boyfriend, Gary the policeman, he dived to save not Ross, not Chandler, but the sub. Yep. It's just that good - make a Joey-approved one for yourself here.
19 The Moist Maker
From one sandwich to another, we have the moist maker: two bits of bread with Thanksgiving leftovers and an extra slice, soaked in gravy, in the middle - so monumental, it had its own episode name: "The One With Ross' Sandwich."
No one will forget the rage Ross felt upon discovering that someone had eaten his beloved lunch and, well, we can kind of understand when you get the full ingredients breakdown. Tasty turkey, soft stuffing, spiced sausage meat, dripping cranberry sauce and a slice of gravy-soaked bread. Mmmm. Now, make sure you don't leave it in the fridge at work...
18 Chandler's Cranberry Sauce
Speaking of Thanksgiving episodes, what about the final one where everyone is late? Not only do the gang let the dinner Monica slaved away making go cold, but they let Chandler's cranberry sauce go... wait, what happens to cranberry sauce?
While cranberry sauce isn't strictly a dish on its own (though Chandler would have us believe otherwise), we felt it necessary to acknowledge Chandler's Thanksgiving contribution because, well, we all know how he feels about this particular holiday. So, raise a glass to Miss Chanandler Bong and don't be afraid to mix it up with cranberry sauce as a condiment while having your Netflix binge. Crisps, pretzels, whatever you fancy dipping most definitely goes.
17 A Thanksgiving Dinner
There were 10 Thanksgiving episodes in total, bite-size celebrations - just like your own Thanksgiving dish for your TV marathon, if you don't fancy slaving away for hours in the kitchen - each as memorable as the next. Who can forget when Brad Pitt came to dinner as Will Colbert, a member of the "I hate Rachel" club, or Rachel's sister, Amy, professed her big plans for baby 'Ella' for when Rachel and Ross passed on? Thanksgiving and TV go together like Joey and sandwiches, and while some spend this day marathoning football, for us, Thanksgiving is all about bingeing Friends episodes. That is not to say, however, that you can't have a Friendsgiving marathon any day of the year. Accompany this walk down memory lane with the likes of turkey, chicken, bread sauce and more - or just all the different types of potatoes.
16 Monica's Christmas Candy
Speaking of public holiday foods, another of Monica's culinary creations impressed more than just the group. These "little drops of heaven" went from being a neighborly gift to almost being the breaking of Monica Geller - and that really takes some doing.
Morning, noon and night, the neighbors came knocking before starting a full-on mob with Joey at the helm. We'll never know what made that candy so great, but we're no strangers to being driven wild by sugar. Treat yourself to your own pieces of candy, perhaps with festive flavors like orange, cinnamon and toffee, in honor of the queen of clean.
Another of Monica's sweet treats has made our list, too; a synthetic chocolate substitute that didn't exactly go down well with Rachel and Phoebe. While Mr Rastatter described Mockolate as "even better than chocolate", the girls had a hard time agreeing. Oh, the things you gotta do to pay the bills - we've all been there, Mon.
Rather than taste the bubbly, crumbly cocoa (and not in a good way), hop over to the cupboard for the real stuff, whether it's Hershey's, Reese's, or Lindt. Or, commit to the cause and try a (much more delicious, we swear) version of vegan and Paleo-friendly mockolate.
14 Rachel's English Trifle
This is one for the brave-hearted and strong-stomached. Unlike Monica, Rachel wasn't much of a cook, proven in season 6 when her attempt at English trifle resulted in a less than appealing hybrid of trifle and shepherd's pie. Ladyfingers, jam, custard, raspberries and sliced bananas were met with sautéed beef, peas and onions - a real English zinger.
However, should you be of Joey's belief that "custard, good. Jam, good. Beef, GOOD!" then give it a try yourself... if you dare. Just don't blame us if it tastes like feet.
13 Phoebe's Grandmother's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Phoebe bestowed a true gift on Monica at the start of this episode: the final cookie from a batch made with her grandmother's secret recipe, passed down for generations - or so she thought. Those delectable chocolate chip treats that the gang (well, Monica) slaved away in the kitchen for hours trying to recreate, including the infamous batch 16 that took its toll on Ross' stomach, turned out to be that of "Nestlé Toulouse". Or Nestlé Toll House to you and me. Yep, you can head down to any good supermarket and pick up a pack of your own.
12 Monica's Lasagna
Lasagna is comfort food at its finest; pasta, meat, sauce and cheese - what more could you want? One portion gets our taste buds tingling, ready for a second helping, but 12 whole lasagnas may start to cross the line (if there ever is one where cheese is concerned).
Make like Monica in season 1 and treat yourself to a wholesome, hearty helping of meat - or vegetarian - lasagna as the episodes roll. We just don't recommend asking your vegetarian pals to scrape off the meat layers, it likely won't go over very well.
11 Monica's jam
Monica really dominates this list, but it's nothing more than we expect from the series' critically acclaimed chef. This time, we're fast-forwarding to season 3 when Monica tries to get over her break-up with Richard by looking to the opposite of man - jam! Our arguably favorite Geller (sorry Ross, Jack and Judy) made jars of the stuff, much to Joey's delight. Head to the silverware drawer and grab a spoon like the food connoisseur himself, or find a slice of toast or doughnut to spread it on. Jam is actually pretty easy to make, so give it a try.
Joey's love of food knows no bounds, but lines were most definitely crossed by Chandler and Rachel in season 7. Refusing to give back a dessert accidentally delivered to the apartment, the pair revel in the best cheesecake they've ever had, going to extreme lengths to protect their share from other members of the group, and each other, as well as the original recipient.
Recreate your own Momma's Little Bakery in your kitchen, or perhaps get your own mother to whip the dessert up, before serving yourself a sizable slice as you nestle into the sofa. We recommend eating it off a plate, rather than a hallway floor, if you can help it.
Rachel's sister, Amy, was a whirlwind of a character. Our favorite faux-pas of hers has to be mistaking Ross for a falafel vendor she encountered the day before, which served Ross well when trying to communicate how angry he was when she got Emma's ears pierced without permission.
Forget "no falafel for you"; you can whip up this favorite dish from the Middle East with chickpeas, onions, scallions, parsley, garlic, cumin and cilantro. Or, if you're lucky enough to be living in NYC, just pop down to the closest corner and you'll probably be able to find a street food vendor serving them up - just don't hold your breath that it'll be Ross making your delicious meal.
Whether you're a die-hard Ross and Rachel supporter, or kind of dug the Rachel/Joey situation, we all felt a little bad for Ross when he tried to appear "fiiiiiiiiiine" with the new pairing, despite not being fine at all.
In homage to his failed dinner party - and his sizzled hands - a portion of fajitas is definitely in order. This dish is so versatile and easy to make; toss in lettuce, vegetables, guac, red peppers and cheese with chicken, beef or fish, and wrap up nice and snug in a tortilla. Simple. Serve with a pitcher or two of margaritas, just be sure you eat first.
Another Ross gem here; we all know "the state of total awareness" that Ross professes is essential when practising martial arts, but unagi is a double treat as it is a type of sushi, too. This freshwater eel is best served with rice, swimming in a sauce similar to teriyaki (made from sugared soy sauce with sake). If eel's not your thing, a salmon skin roll (or your sushi of choice) will do just fine. Enjoy while watching Phoebe and Rachel take down Professor Geller.
While lobster didn't often grace the table of the apartment - the gang were mostly broke, let's be real - this crustacean was essential to one of the series' most pinnacle lines: "he's her lobster!" We'll all fondly remember the moment Phoebe coined this notion based on the fact that when lobsters mate, they mate for life; they are soulmates. Feel the love and treat yourself to this decadent dish for dinner after a long, hard Netflix binge.
Okay, so the line of season 3's The One Where No One's Ready may have been "not the hummus!" But we most definitely advocate this chickpea dip. Add a little flavour to your corn chips or carrot sticks (who are we kidding?) by blending chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt, tahini and water. Added ingredients can include red pepper and sweet chili - just don't get any down your dress. Psst, you can throw some on that falafel we mentioned above for a double-homage in your meal.
"Pizza! We like pizza!" How right you are, Joey. Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Monica, Chandler and, of course, Joey, devoured slices of the stuff on a regular basis. Without anchovies for Ross, without meat for Phoebe and with every topping available for Joey, you'll be hard pushed not to spot this tasty takeaway every couple of episodes. There's no better pairing than pizza and TV on a Saturday afternoon, so get dialling for your local pizza parlour ASAP and order a Joey special - two pizzas. Or, for the Monica's, make your own with one of these great recipes.
3 Meat platter
From Phoebe's pregnancy cravings to Joey's... ahem... need for a costume in season 7, luncheon meat is most definitely a staple in the Geller-Bing and Tribbiani households. Salami, ham, pastrami, prosciutto and spam all make for great snacks. You know Monica would probably arrange them all on a platter with some cheese, chutneys, and crudité, while Joey would pile them all onto a sandwich and wash it down with a beer. Either way, you'll want to throw on your pregnancy pants and bring on the meat sweats.
2 A Gallon of Milk
After all that grub, you're probably feeling a little thirsty. You could grab a simple glass of milk to wash down the remnants of lobster, Thanksgiving dinners and unagi (anybody else feel a llittle queasy just thinking about that combo?), or you could impress your fellow sofa dwellers and do it Joey style. One of Joey's proudest achievements, alongside his Days Of Our Lives career, is his (questionable) ability to drink a gallon of milk in 10 seconds. While this may seem as appealing as drinking the fat to some, it is a challenge that we expect the Monicas of the world to rise to.
Where would the gang be without the coffee house? We cannot imagine the group hanging out anywhere that wasn't Central Perk, snuggled into their eternally reserved sofa with steaming mugs of coffee. Rachel would never become the no-nonsense working mum she was by the end of season 10 if it wasn't for her first job here, while Joey would have lost out on at least three girls' numbers had he not had his own stint in the apron. Fuel up by beckoning for your own Gunther (the series' unsung hero) to turn on that coffee maker and settle down for a few more episodes...