September 08, 2023
"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" is known for many things, but incredible — or simply edible — food isn't one of them.
Over the course of its run, the FXX show has invented increasingly deranged dishes that even a feral raccoon wouldn't touch. Consider Frank's Delaware River catfish, or Mac's alcoholic protein drink "fight milk" made with crow's egg. Charlie's favorite dinner is enough to send anyone to a gastroenterologist: milk steak, boiled over hard with a side of raw jelly beans.
This all may sound like the stuff of nightmares, but thanks to a new cookbook, it can soon be a reality in your kitchen. "Paddy's Pub: The Worst Bar in Philadelphia" features recreations of 47 snacks, entrées and cocktails mentioned in the series, grouped together by the character who inspired them. Ahead of its release on Sept. 26, author Laurel Randolph told PhillyVoice how she turned disgusting jokes into tasty meals and shared a perfect menu for an "It's Always Sunny" dinner party.
Were you a fan of 'It's Always Sunny' before you took on this project?
Oh yeah. When I started talking to Disney, they asked me what projects I'd be interested in working on, and 'It's Always Sunny' was at the top of my list because they had just acquired Fox and FX. I thought it was perfect for a cookbook because it's been running for so long. It's a bar, so there's lots of drinks, there's lots of gross food. And it has such a great fan base, so it was such an obvious answer to me.
As you said, a lot of the food is kind of grotesque. What was your method for making these dishes appetizing?
Yeah, that was probably the hardest part, because there's definitely plenty of stuff you have to put in there, but some of it's pretty gross. Luckily, a lot of them are still based around real food. For example, Charlie's spa-day spaghetti is really just him carrying around spaghetti in a plastic bag, which is disgusting, but spaghetti is not disgusting. There were a few dishes where it was trickier; I had to get a little bit creative because, as presented, they're really not edible or safe to eat. So I tried to make it as close to what was intended while making it delicious.
Which recipe was the hardest to crack?
Milk steak was tricky for sure, because he does kind of describe it. He orders it boiled over hard, which is just the grossest thing I can think of to say before ordering a steak. So with that one I was like, well, I just can't quite make it how Charlie would eat it, because no one wants it that way. So I got a little bit creative there. I ended up making it a chicken-fried steak with a milk gravy. So it still has all the components, but it's really delicious.
The grilled Charlie is also really gross. It's American cheese, chocolate, butter and peanut butter. What I ended up making still has the peanut butter, the chocolate, the butter, and then I used mascarpone cheese to make it like a dessert grilled sandwich, which is super delicious. It's as close as I could get without making it very gross.
Do you have a personal favorite recipe that you made?
I have a lot of favorites. I actually really like the fight milk, which on its head is maybe one of the grossest things they talk about. But when you take the crow out of it, you realize that it's just vodka eggnog. So I just made a really good vodka eggnog, it's really tasty. I also really like the Waitress's cherry pie, which is from the black-and-white noir episode where she poisons Charlie. Because she uses boozy cherries for it, I put amaretto in it.
Were there foods or drinks from the show that you considered but ultimately didn't make the cut?
Oh yeah, I had a really long running spreadsheet with every food reference in the show and what episode, what season, what time and what character talked about it. There's lots of stuff that didn't make it. I would say pretty much all the heavy hitters made it. Every time I've talked to someone about it and they've asked if something's in it, I've always said yes. I think fans will be happy.
One thing that I could not figure out how to make it remotely resemble the thing in the show and taste good is the turkey sangria that Charlie makes for his dinner party. It is so awful-looking. It looks like vomit in a glass. I was like, wait, I can't, there's just nothing I can do there to make that a thing anyone would want to eat. They also eat raccoon steak, but that would just be me making a steak and saying it's raccoon, so that didn't make any sense.
The recipes are grouped by character, and Charlie seems to have the most. Is that just because he has the most chaotic food ideas? How did he come out on top?
I don't know if this is Charlie Day's doing or his sense of humor, but there's a lot of food and food jokes that specifically revolve around Charlie. Him never having eaten a pear before, him only eating green food or, you know, his superstitious foods. Him having his own signature dishes, like making the grilled Charlie, or him loving milk steak. There's just a lot of iconic moments from the show related to food that relate to Charlie. I think (the recipes are) pretty evenly weighted, but he has the most for sure.
If you were planning an 'It's Always Sunny' dinner party, what grouping of recipes would you suggest?
If I was having a dinner party, I would absolutely make rum ham because everyone knows exactly what it is when they walk in the door, and it would feed a lot of people. If you want to squash some beef with your friends and family, if you want to really air your grievances, there is a recipe for squash beef, which is roast beef and then a side of butternut squash mash. Those are really good. There's a big Cobb salad recipe from Artemis, which would be a good starter or a side dish. Mac has homemade potato chips from when he wouldn't share his chips with Charlie, and those would be fun for an appetizer or side. There's some really good desserts in here, too. There's a trash cake, which is one of Dee's recipes. That would be fun for a dinner party because it's a layer cake, and you don't have to throw it in the trash if you don't want to.