There’s a famous Thanksgiving episode of Friends — well, there are a lot of them, but there’s in in particular — where Monica relaxes enough to let Rachel prepare dessert for the group. The resulting dish forever cemented Rachel’s trifle on Friends as an all-time moment for the series. As it turns out, the real story of Rachel’s trifle on Friends may have been even grosser. Matt LeBlanc, who played Joey Tribbiani for all 10 seasons (and two seasons of spinoff Joey), revealed a truth behind the Shepherd’s Trifle that’s so absurd, it could only have come from the set of Friends.
The actor went on The Graham Norton Show to divulge what the actual trifle was made of on set (don’t worry, no meat was involved in real life). “What we were actually eating was whipped cream and some bananas,” Le Blanc said in the appearance. LeBlanc went on to say that he did actually eat whipped cream and sliced bananas from the trifle while filming — he ate whipped cream and sliced bananas that had previously been in the mouth of co-star David Schwimmer. Yikes.
It’ll all make sense once you hear it.
LeBlanc explained that during one take, Schwimmer was laughing so much, he spit up some of the whipped cream and bananas he had just taken a bite of as Ross. LeBlanc, true to Joey form, failed to notice. “I was sitting right next to him and I didn’t see him spit it out,” LeBlanc told Norton and his guests, to much laughter from the audience. “I scrapped some on my plate and then I’m eating it while we finish the take.” No one had the heart to tell him; LeBlanc only discovered the truth while watching a gag reel (no pun intended) at a wrap party. He literally at the food that Schwimmer had just spit out. Ah, memories. Gross, incredible memories.
This came up because The Graham Norton Show is a staple of the BBC. It couldn’t be any more English if it regularly served meat trifle delicacies to all of its visiting guests. While the host didn’t ask LeBlanc about it directly, he did ask “What was the worst thing you had to eat on Friends?” And boy, was that the right question to ask him. LeBlanc instantly recalled Friends episode Season 6, Episode 9: “The One Where Ross Got High”. (It really deserves to be called “The One With Rachel’s Trifle”, though.) While Chandler hopes to win over Monica and Ross’ parents, Rachel cooks a food disaster that both Joey and Ross end up eating. Per LeBlanc, the antics were so over-the-top, the scene required multiple takes to film. And that’s how the one where Schwimmer baby birded food to LeBlanc came to be.
For those who don’t recall the Friends episode, Rachel was eager to participate in the planning, but she didn’t recognize that the pages of her cookbook were stuck together; Rachel expertly arranged part of a traditional English Trifle, and part Shepherd’s Pie. “A layer of ladyfingers, then a layer of clotted cream,” Rachel explained to the baffled dinner guests in the episode, “Then a layer of raspberry jam, followed by beef sautéed with peas and onions, and more ladyfingers…” It’s disgusting and wonderful and bizarre, and of course Joey not only ate it, but went back for seconds.
The real kicker of this story is that LeBlanc wasn’t alone on the Graham Norton Show stage. In fact, none other than the legendary Mary Berry of The Great British Baking Show was just inches away from him. So not only did she have to endure the horror of discovering an American series once joked that a person cooked (and served!) half of an English Trifle and half of a Shepherd’s Pie, but she also had to hear an actor relive the story of eating it firsthand. Sorry, Mary! But it was probably a lot worse for Matt LeBlanc.