"I don't wanna be stuck here all night with your fat sister"
She didn't know what hurt most, the fact he didn't like her back and insulted her, or that she was stupid enough to think he would like her.
She closed the door to her room and fell onto the bed face first. Hot tears soaking into the sheets, she let sadness engulf her. And before she knew it, she was asleep.
When she woke up, it was still dark, she had slept for only an hour. Sadness gave way to anger. Anger at the way her life was going.
Why does Ross get the affection of her parents, college friends, and a band? Even her brother, King of the Nerds, was cooler than she was.
Why does Rachel get all the boys and the admiration of everybody? She hardly had to do anything, and her future was all taken care of.
Why was it so easy for everybody else to look good and thin, their lives going so seamlessly, unfolding so effortlessly? Friends, boyfriends, parties with the cool kids.
And all she got were insults or pity looks. And there again, she couldn't say what was worse, the bullying or the polite pity.
It all came back to her. Lewis Posin, her best guy friend in 5th grade, rejecting her. Her crush on Chip Matthews who only had eyes for Rachel. James Farrell, Tommy Rollerson … and now, Chandler Bing. Another one to add to her history of rejections, a list almost bigger than her collection of old buttons.
For a moment, she pondered the idea of going downstairs and give him a piece of her mind. Tell him how mean he was, how ridiculous his hair looked, how pathetic his hate for Thanksgiving food is … No, that wasn't her, and it would backfire, inevitably. As it always did, like whenever she complained about something at home and her mother would find it the perfect opportunity to label her "difficult".
Plus, he probably already left.
As she was sitting on her bed, alone in the darkness, anger slowly paved way for … a need for revenge? No, it was something else. Something stronger.
Her crying subsided and her breathing slowed down. At least, the tears had relieved her from the painstaking turmoil of sorrow, dejection, and resentment.
Anger turned into a need for action.
It can't go on like this.
She can cry herself until her body went numb, or make a decision right now, and stick with it with the same desire and determination she had when she played puzzle games with Ross or challenged him in a wrestling match.
No tracking back, no giving up allowed.
From this day, on Thanksgiving 1987, she will take charge of her life, she will become the cultivator of how others see her.
And if she had to seek revenge, it would be in the form of success.
The next day, Ross and Chandler were nowhere to be seen.
A relief for Monica. She could move on now, and begin her resolution.
First things first, new diet habits.
At lunch, she informed her mother she wasn't hungry. Of course, Judy Geller didn't take no for an answer. "Well, shouldn't you eat before you get hungry?"
At dinner, Monica knew she had to come up with something, she knew her mother as always would insist on finishing the plates. "Never waste food," she would repeatedly say to her children.
She ate half of her portion of mashed potatoes from the Thanksgiving leftovers and tried to sneak out the rest of her plate, but Judy caught her.
"Monica, please finish your food."
Suddenly, an idea popped into her mind. She got up and started to collect the plates. "Dinner was delicious, mom. Let me clean and return the favor so you can watch TV with dad," she said, as casually as she possibly could.
"You don't need to make a big deal out of everything, Monica. A thank you is enough." Judy rolled her eyes at her daughter.
"I insist," Monica said through gritted teeth.
Her parents left the kitchen for the living room. She could hear her mother utter under her breathe, "I don't know what we did to raise such a dramatic child, Jack."
She washed the dishes and cleaned the sink, feeling instantly more relaxed. All that pent-up frustration faded, even if temporarily.
During the week, she went to the public library after school, looking for books. She was lost in all the literature about eating habits and diets. She settled on The Rotation Diet by Martin Katahn, mostly because it said "Lose up to a pound a day and never gain it back" and it sounded promising. She also picked up a small book of healthy recipes she could try at home when her mother wasn't hogging the kitchen.
At the end of the same week, she had a meeting with Mrs. Sullivan, the school counselor, to talk about college applications.
"So, Monica Geller, how do you see life after high-school?" she asked.
"Em, I think I'm going to be a teacher, I already applied to the State University of New York."
"Why do you want to be a teacher?"
Monica shrugged. "People say I'm good with kids."
The counselor fixed her eyes on her as she opened a folder.
"Hmm, your grades are good, and I see you have a lot of extracurricular activities," she said, turning the pages of her files. "Hockey, community service, drama club... A lot of things seem to interest you, why teaching in particular?" Mrs. Sullivan seemed intrigued, she could always sense when a student was undecided.
"My parents say that teaching suits me and it's a safe career path."
Mrs. Sullivan closed the folder and looked at Monica intensely.
"Let's meet again soon and in the meantime, think about what you really like to do, don't restrict yourself. It can't hurt even if you already applied," she said in a comforting tone.
It was easy for Monica to think about what she really liked. She liked food, she liked playing games and she liked winning. How to make a career out of that?
Ross liked rocks for some reason, but there was a career for that. She wasn't going to get picked for an athletic program, that's for sure. She loved food, and there were careers for that.
Except she had to stop eating food, and those careers meant she would be around it all the time.
Back home, Monica went to her room and proceeded to clean it. Cleaning felt good, soothing. It was her way of dealing with the anxiety generated by all the talk about life after high-school. Could it really get worse than high school? Of course it could, and that was terrifying.
She decided to rearrange her room and get rid of anything that reminded her of food. Food, and past failures. A new look for her living space, less cluttered, less childish.
From a box of snacks to her Kermit The Frog poster, it was time to grow up. Although, in reality, she wasn't ready to throw all the souvenirs away, they just didn't fit anymore in what she envisioned for her room.
She opened her closet to store them and pulled herself up to reach the upper shelf, where she found her old Easy Bake Ovens.
Easy Monica's Bakery.
Sure, it was annoying most of the time you had to wait three days for the brownies to bake, but it was so much fun.
Childhood was so fun. Baking, hosting tea parties with Ross and playing with her dog.
Worry-free, uncomplicated and happy.
She always loved food, there was no way around it. She was about to try and stop thinking about it. But the simple act of consciously eating less made her think about food all the time now.
After all, she started to count every calorie in her meals.
Still, she liked to cook, feeling useful and most of all, it gave her a purpose.
"You should be a chef"
It made her so happy when he said it, but now, everything about that day was soiled. It was probably a sarcastic remark. He acted so aloof and she could see it now. She should have seen it coming if even her mom hated him, Judy Geller loved every one of Ross's friends.
But she fell for it because he was cute. Cute and funny.
That shouldn't be enough.
It wasn't going to be enough from now on.
Cooking was something she really liked and was good at. Just turning the pages of that new recipe book made her excited. In fact, nothing thrilled her more except for maybe beating Ross at football.
Perhaps she could ask Mrs. Sullivan about a career that involved cooking ...
Chandler did seem to enjoy that Mac and Cheese.
No, she had to stop thinking about that night.
Stop thinking about him. His opinion didn't matter anymore.
Drenched in sweat, Monica felt salty drops invade her eyes. By her estimations, she had to run at least a mile more than her usual morning runs. Although part of her diet was to reduce her caloric intake for 4 days then go back to normal the next few days, which coincided with the holiday season, she still felt guilty about indulging in the glory of Christmas dinners and cookies. In addition to that, her dad loved to get her all kinds of chocolates and cheeses that she just couldn't resist.
So far, she had only lost 4 pounds but it was too soon to get discouraged.
She was running three times a week in the morning before school now. She started with short runs and slow speeds, and gradually built up to faster and longer runs, taking the long way home from school. It slowly became easier and her knees didn't hurt as much.
It was an uphill battle, but she was getting there.
That was the good news.
The bad news, of course, was that she had seen him again, at NYU while she visited Ross with Rachel a week before Christmas. He looked like a stupid buttmunch. Stupid and cute. But still stupid.
And she got drunk for the first time. She blacked out in Ross's room and didn't remember much. Thankfully, her brother didn't say anything to her parents.
She remembered she felt someone kissing her, but the memory of it was so fuzzy and blurry, she couldn't even tell who it was.
Maybe it was Chandler? No, no, don't go down that road.
But a midnight mystery kisser? Things were looking up.
In fact, the past few weeks, she was back regularly at the public library, she read up everything there was to know about culinary jobs. It all made sense now.
A realization dawned on her, changing wasn't just about losing weight. She didn't want to end up in a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Just because her parents didn't expect her to achieve anything didn't mean she shouldn't have a sense of purpose or direction in life.
It was true that every time she envisioned herself being a chef, running her own kitchen, she found it difficult to silence her mother's voice in her head, being critical of everything. That image, however, that dream was more clear every passing day, and it made her unbelievably happy.
When she was back in Mrs. Sullivan's office after the holidays, there was no doubt left in her mind.
"I know what I want to do, I want to be a chef," she declared, her voice firm.
The counselor stayed composed at her revelation.
"Cooking? You didn't tell me you liked that."
"It's my dream, it's always been, I just buried it for whatever reason. And I know what you're gonna say. It's a hard and stressful career. The pay is not always great, but it doesn't matter because cooking makes me happy. And I know that I have to be fit because you stand on your feet for hours and it's hot, but I started losing weight and I will be ready. I believe I have what it takes, and I'm working on my self-discipline and mental strength to get there." Monica was almost out of breath, her eyes wide open. She rehearsed her speech for days.
Mrs. Sullivan smiled. "You will be a great chef, miss Geller."
Monica grinned at her and finally relaxed.
"Did you tell your parents?" asked the school counselor.
"I can't tell my parents because we are gonna fight about it. And I'm only ready to fight about it if I have to. If I don't get into the schools I want … well, there's no need for an argument to be had".
"I think there's a solution to your problem … Here, take this with you"
Mrs. Sullivan handed a brochure to Monica.
In April, high school prom took place earlier than the previous years at Lincoln High.
It wasn't the worst night ever for Monica. Roy Gublik, her date, wasn't as bad as she thought. Despite the fact he never stopped talking about Star Wars, he was nice, concluding the night with some light action. Nothing substantial. Her flower remained intact. At least, Rachel and Chip provided some entertaining drama.
She hadn't lost as much weight as she hoped. Since Christmas, all her attention and time were devoted for writing college essays, getting all the required letters of recommendations and applying to the best culinary schools in the state.
The stress of applying, without her parents knowing, was taking its toll on her. She focused her energy on concocting a plan to convince them she could be a chef.
Mrs. Sullivan gave her a brochure about a cooking competition involving high-school students from all over New York that would take place in May. She registered and spent the following weeks learning kitchen fundamentals and preparing for the competition: The slang, the kitchen organization, the safety measures, and knives skills. She ended up befriending one of her classmates, Will Colbert, who was also taking part in the competition.
Monica figured if she proved to her parents she was the best, they would have no quarrel with her decision.
On a sunny April sunday, the Gellers went to the city to visit Ross and Monica's grandmother, who lived in the Village. Monica adored her grandmother, she was possibly the only member of her family to prefer her over Ross.
She always loved the apartment, it was located in a great neighborhood, the place was jovial and colored but very neat and organized at the same time.
After dinner, she sat at the desk by the window overlooking New York, Monica's grandmother joined her. "You like the view, don't you?" she asked her granddaughter. Monica nodded longingly.
"If you're going to college in the city, you could stay here."
Monica's eyes widened and her face lit up.
"Yes, if you're in the city, there's no reason you shouldn't stay with me. I have a perfectly fine guest room for you"
Monica's emotions overwhelmed her. "That's .. I'm... Thank you."
The older woman smiled. "Anything for my favorite granddaughter!"
She thanked her again and hugged her tightly, imaging a whole new life in the city. A life where she could make new friends and live in the culinary capital of the country.
Before they left, Monica took a last look at the apartment, the colored walls, that cozy kitchen, the beautiful view.
She didn't know what life after high-school had in store for her, but it would happen right here, in the greatest city in the world.
Ever since Monica visited her grandmother, she was eager as ever to reach all her goals.
Now it was May, and gone was the spring slump, she was losing weight faster.
Binders and notebooks were filled to religiously keep track of every calorie, recording everything she ate, every exercise. Fighting the hunger was still hard, but her resilience got stronger.
Eventually, she settled into a new diet.
Oatmeal, almond milk, nonfat yogurt for breakfasts. Blueberries, low-fat cheese, hummus, baby carrots, sweet peppers at lunch.
Lettuce, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, chicken, pasta and avocado for dinners.
She was now jogging daily. On a treadmill, uphill, at every occasion.
On weekends, she would take her bike around the neighborhood and go swimming at the Nassau Aquatic Center.
She felt more energy than ever, even managing to convince her mother to let her cook her own meals. Simple, creative and healthy meals she packed with her to school.
Dieting had become fun, thanks to exercising and cooking. A newfound routine that was actually enjoyable to her.
When the scale indicated she lost another 15 pounds in the last month, she quickly suppressed her joy. Complacency was the worst enemy, she wouldn't rest until the finish line.
The next weekend, she and Will went to take part in the "Turn Up The Heat" cooking competition at the American Culinary Federation in Long Island. About a hundred students from New York high-schools participated.
Monica was mostly met with indifference when she told her parents about the contest, however, she managed to drag her father with her. It was a good start, she remembered he could barely make it to her piano recitals in middle school, and if things went well, maybe she could tell him about her college applications.
The moment she entered the kitchen arena, she felt chills running down her spine, amazed by the state of the art equipment and appliances. Everything one would want in their own kitchen - a free-standing oven, a cooktop, a grill, a microwave and more.
The contestants were given 10 minutes to pick the ingredients and prepare, in 90 minutes, a complete meat-based dish and multiple samples to be tested by judges.
Monica got to work, preparing the base for the filet and the marinating sauce, she switched between the worktops making sure the meat wasn't overcooked and arranging the samples. While she was cooking, her dad was filming the event on his camera and occasionally provided encouragement.
The high of the competition and finally seeing her father pay attention to one of her passions, utterly thrilled her.
After turning the plates and recipe to the jury composed of professional chefs, one of them stopped by for a taste, he smiled and gave her a thumbs up. Monica couldn't stop smiling.
She sat with Will and her dad waiting for the results.
The head of the jury announced the top 5 - Monica came in third whilst Will came in 15th, a student from Cold Spring Harbor High-School had won.
She was still upset and disappointed during the medal ceremony. When she went back to her dad, Will, who was happy with his ranking, approached her, "Monica, you came in second! The kid that won worked at a restaurant, you were amazing!", she forced a smile at him.
He was right, she didn't have restaurant experience and this boded well. Still, she was frustrated to get so close to winning.
Jack Geller, on the other hand, looked delighted when he took a grab from the sample plates. "This is great, honey! I am so proud of you!"
That was all she needed to hear to make her grin. "Really?" she asked him earnestly.
"My little Harmonica is the best cook! I hope you'll cook something this good for me at home."
Monica was overjoyed. She didn't expect her dad to be so enthusiastic.
Consequently, on the ride home, she plucked up the courage to reveal her secret.
"Dad, I have something to tell you but you have to promise me you won't get mad."
He glanced at her with furrowed brows.
"Ok, there you go." She took a breath before proceeding, "I applied to a couple of culinary schools in the state. This is what I really want to do and I think I'm good at it."
Jack pondered his daughter's confession. "Is this why you insisted for me to come?"
"Well, you are indeed very good at it." He beamed at her and squeezed her shoulder.
"I didn't want to tell you because .. I haven't gotten the answers yet, I still don't know if I'll get in. I didn't know how you would react, and I haven't said anything to mom … Could you keep this to yourself?" she said with pleading eyes.
Jack slowed down the car. "Honey, I won't tell your mother but you should."
"I know. I was just trying to care of things on my own first. For the money, I applied for scholarships and there are loans─"
"You don't have to worry about that."
Monica felt her heart warming and kissed him on his cheek.
After a moment of silence, Jack looked at his daughter again. "Don't tell this to your mom, but your filet is so much better than hers," he said, making her laugh.
The next day, Monica stepped on the scale like she did at the end of every week. She almost forgot about her target number now, the process itself of losing weight became second nature.
When she went downstairs for dinner, she immediately noticed her mother sitting at the table with two envelopes.
Monica froze halfway down the stairs. She swallowed heavily and tried to look as carefree as possible as she walked straight to the kitchen sink.
"Monica, what are those?"
She couldn't bring herself to say anything in response.
"You've got a letter from the Culinary Institute of America, and another one from Paul Smith's College. I don't understand … You already had an admission letter!"
Monica felt her stomach churning and her hands shaking. She forgot about the letters, just standing there with a paralyzing apprehension, expectantly waiting for her mother's reaction.
"When were you going to tell me about this?" Judy glared at her, her arms crossed.
Monica felt her ears getting hot. "I─ I was going to ─"
"Why are you so secretive? I'm really trying my best with you but if you keep hiding things from us, how do you expect me to help you?"
"Look, mom, I'm sorry, I just didn't know how─"
"You don't think I've noticed the weight you're losing?"
Monica averted her eyes, looking down.
"Does your dad know about this?" Judy put the envelopes down. "It doesn't matter, I'll have a conversation with him later, but this is about you … I can't─ This isn't how I raised you!" Her voice rose in anger.
She couldn't stand her mother cutting her off constantly, and couldn't contain her growing exasperation, she snapped at her mother. "Mom!" Monica shouted. "This is how you raised me, ok? Maybe try to figure out why I didn't tell you? Yes, I've been losing weight and yes I'm applying to culinary schools because that's what I want and I'm doing it on my own! Whatever you say isn't going to change my mind, so save it!"
That was the moment her voice wobbled and she couldn't contain a thick flow of tears falling down her cheeks, her lips trembling. Every annoyance she ever felt with her mother came flooding out.
Judy was stunned as a deafening silence filled the room.
Monica couldn't see anything through her eyes, anger overwhelmed her. She walked past her mother and went upstairs, leaving Judy completely flustered.
When she closed the door to her room, she realized she wasn't this upset since that cursed Thanksgiving night. Except this time, she wasn't willing to cry in the darkness anymore.
In the morning, Monica went to the kitchen for breakfast and noticed the envelopes on the table. Her heart started beating faster, she couldn't open them alone.
She left the house, and walked quickly, her eyes never leaving the envelopes.
Finally, she arrived at the Green residence.
"Please Rachel, open them, I can't do it."
She sat on the sidewalk with her best friend.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, do it!"
Monica scrutinized Rachel's eyes as she opened the envelopes and took out the letters. Rachel kept a straight face as she glanced at them.
She looked at Monica and her mouth curved into a smile.
"You got in! Both of them!"
"Are you sure? Let me check."
"Monica, of course I'm sure, my GPA might not be great but I can read!"
"I can't believe it, I'm going to be a chef!"
"Well, you're gonna go to chef school at least."
She smiled and Rachel pulled her best friend into a hug. "I'm so happy for you."
"I'm so happy for me too!"
Monica was on a cloud all day, she informed Mrs. Sullivan and Will with the good news, enjoying the compliments and the congratulations.
More than losing weight and discovering a dream career, she had now a newfound confidence in her ability to accomplish any goal she set out for herself.
Back home, she stumbled directly into her parents in the living room, visibly waiting for her. Jack came to her as her mother stayed on the couch.
"Did you open the letters?"
"I got in!"
Jack hugged his daughter, and whispered into her ear, "She'll get over it, we're proud of you, honey."
Monica nodded unconvincingly, she glanced back at her mother who wasn't looking at them and went upstairs.
She was half asleep when she heard the door to her bedroom creak. Judy was standing in the shadows. "Can I come in?" she asked in an unusually soft voice.
"Yes," whispered Monica as she propped up against the wall and turned on her bedside lamp.
Her mother approached her and sat on the edge of the bed, she was holding a jar.
"Your grandmother gave me this jar when I got married. It looks funny and it used to make me smile as a child, she inherited it from her mother. It's a chef utensils holder from the 20s."
Judy looked down and swallowed as Monica examined the jar which had a clock in the form of a smiling face with the words 'Cookie Time' painted over it.
"I want you to have it. You'll need it."
Monica was surprised by the tenderness of her mother's voice, she even spotted the corners of her mouth quirking up.
She watched her eyes as Judy deposited the jar on her bedside table.
Then she knew, it was her mother's way of giving her blessing.
Her mother got up and was about to close the door when Monica called her quietly, "Mom?"
Judy turned to her.
"I'm going to miss home."
Mrs. Geller nodded and offered her a tight-lipped smile.
In early June, Ross was back home from college.
As she heard the doorbell, she wondered for a second if Chandler would come with him. She shook her head, he was probably celebrating the end of the year at some party with naive girls who found his haircut sexy.
She opened the door and Ross immediately hugged and congratulated her for getting into culinary school. He was amazed by her weight loss, she was about 190 pounds, her face was visibly thinner and her jawline sharper.
When her parents arrived, all the talk was about Ross's junior year results and how he passed all his exams with flying colors.
At dinner, her parents finished early and Monica cleaned the table and the sink, Ross joined her to help with the dishes. "We're both gonna be in New York," he said to her.
"Ross, the CIA is in Poughkeepsie and I'll be in my dorm all week anyway."
"The CIA? I know you're strong but becoming a special agent is a little extreme, Mon."
He teased her and she splashed him with water in response.
"Culinary Institute of America. Can you drop the joke now?"
Truthfully, she was happy to have her brother in the city. Manhattan was closer to her school than their home, and she could take the train to see him at NYU or visit her grandmother.
She would have people who cared for her. Even if Ross could be annoying, she would be surrounded by love and family.
There is nothing quite like summer in the Hamptons.
The smell of the salty ocean, the sandy beaches, the sound of the waves crashing.
The Greens invited the Gellers to spend the weekend at their beach house in East Hampton, while Ross was on a holiday trip in California with Chandler to visit Disneyland.
It was the ideal mid-August vacation for Monica.
Her parents were busy chatting with Sandra and Leonard Green, discussing the real estate specifics of the area.
Although she was glad Ross wasn't there to hog all the attention, she secretly wished she'd see Chandler one more time and take her 'look at me now' revenge on him.
At 170 pounds, she was getting closer to reaching her goal. Was it enough to rub it in his face?
It didn't matter, he wasn't there anyway, and she was sure an opportunity to meet him again would arise in the future.
For now, she was ready to relax. Celebrate the end of the nightmare high-school was and daydream about her classes in culinary school.
For the occasion, Rachel took her shopping for a new summer wardrobe that week. Although she felt great about herself at this point, she didn't feel she was 'bikini ready' yet. She picked up a one-piece swimsuit instead.
Monica opted for the cleanest beach turf spot, she lied on her towel and Rachel joined her. both taking the lounging position and soaking in the shy rays of sun in the cloudy sky until Rachel propped herself up on her elbows. "Mon, look!", she nudged her.
She was pointing at two guys sitting a few feet away from them. "They're totally checking us out!" she exclaimed.
"You mean they're checking you out." Monica retorted as she rolled her eyes at her best friend.
"Mon, stop with the self-pity. Look how cute they are! It's the perfect beach distraction, I need to get over Chip, and you need to get over … high-school … and yourself!"
Monica gasped when Rachel waved at the young men to invite them over.
"You gotta be kidding me! I came here to relax, Rach, not flirt with guys that aren't even interested in me! I'm done with the unreturned crushes."
Her best friend was feigning not to listen to her rant.
The two young men approached them. A muscular, buff guy sat on Rachel's side, and a blond leaner guy sat on Monica's towel alongside her.
Rachel quickly got sucked into the conversation with her flirt. Monica, agonizingly self-conscious, stayed silent, which made the blond man equally as uncomfortable.
After a while, he spoke at last, "It's kinda cold today."
She nodded while averting her eyes from him.
"Feel how cold my hands are ..." He extended his hands to her. Monica looked at them and immediately turned to her bag, picking up another towel she brought with her just in case.
The man had a completely baffled look on his face. "T-Thanks … I guess".
Rachel witnessed the scene as the blond man got up, and excused himself to go back to his spot.
She took Monica's hand and pulled her away.
"Monica, what are you doing?"
She shrugged her shoulders.
"Didn't you see he was trying to flirt with you and wanted to hold your hands?"
"Yes, it's the old my hands are cold pretext!"
"It wasn't very obvious. I thought he was cold, I was being nice!"
"It's the least subtle form of flirting. Well done, you completely shut him down."
She had always convinced herself that nobody could ever consider her attractive. Even if she lost a significant amount of weight, it wasn't something that changed in her mind. She had constructed a life for herself where she simply ignored her physical appearance because whenever it came up, it brought her back to her deepest fears and open wounds.
Seeing her best friend ruminating, Rachel brought her out of her thoughts. "You know Mon, you have to get used to this, guys will notice you."
Monica smiled appreciatively, Rachel meant it as a reassuring compliment. The reality was, she wasn't ready. She didn't have the luxury or time to worry about that, juggling so many things at once.
The fact she had no game with boys was the least of her preoccupations for now.
There was one improvement however, if all the rejections used to make her feel lonely. Now, she simply thought of herself as single.
Mathematics for Culinary Arts 101
MAC AND CHEESE
For six people
Original recipe 800g - Five servings
Scale the recipe up to greater yields (6 people) by using baker's percentages.
Water or Milk: 265g, scaling 93%
Sodium citrate: 11g, scaling 4%
White cheddar cheese: 285g, scaling 100%
Water: as needed for cooking the pasta
Dry Macaroni: 240g, scaling 84%
Salt: to taste
Five servings - 6 portions
Scaling factor= 1.2
White cheddar cheese: 287.28g, Dry mac: 287.28g, water: 318.06g, sodium: 13.68g.
1. Combine water/milk and sodium in a pot, whisk to dissolve at medium heat.
2. Add the white cheddar gradually until melted and completely smooth.
3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
4. Boil the dry macaroni for 5 minutes until al dente.
5. Drain without rinsing the pasta.
6. Stir in the warm cheese sauce and fold in the preferred accompaniments.
7. Season the Mac and Cheese and serve immediately.
8. Leave one serving to cool for Chandler.
Revenge is a dish best served cold.
"Monica, are you listening to me?"
Her best friend's voice brought her out of her scribbling. Seeing her distracted, Rachel took out Monica's notebook.
"Monica, I know you go to the Harvard of cooking schools or whatever but I am right here!"
"I'm sorry. I just have so much homework and I don't want to slack off."
"It's ok." She gave her the notebook back. "What are we gonna do about my classes? I swear the Psychology department is the worst place on earth!" Rachel said with a grunt.
"Give it another chance. You already changed a bunch of your classes."
"I don't know anymore. The teachers are boring, the guys are not cute and the parking sucks!"
It's been two months since Monica started school at the Culinary Institute of America. Things were going well. Her dorm had a stunning view of the Hudson river, and her roommate, Hillary, was clean and friendly.
Rachel had enrolled at Vassar, which was close by. Their weekly meetings every Tuesday in a trendy Poughkeepsie coffee shop turned quickly into 'rants time' for her best friend: Boring classes, cute guys, sorority antics, nose surgeries.
Still, Monica enjoyed them greatly as it allowed to maintain their friendship. Their college lives were very different, Rachel seemed to live constantly in a soap whereas the only drama in Monica's life consisted of tests and exams. Her classes were rigorous and intense, and the load of homework heavy and demanding. Her competitiveness truly peaked in such a challenging environment, but at least, she thought, it was channeled in a productive way and not just to humiliate her brother.
Life was quiet and calm. She maintained her diet and her new lifestyle and could consider herself thin enough at 140 pounds. She planned to lose another 5 pounds by Thanksgiving.
She discovered a passion for exercising. At some point during the last year, the simple idea of waking up every morning and go for a run, simply powered by her own desire, thrilled her.
She felt energized and up for anything almost all the time.
Rachel waved in her face to grab her attention, and Monica smiled.
"By the way, your homework?" Rachel smirked. "Whatever your revenge plan on Chandler is, count me in!"
Monica frowned at her friend. "I have to call my grandmother, she said she had some news for me."
"Your message sounded important, Nana. What's the big news?"
"Listen, honey, I met with my banker this morning. I have put a down payment to move to Florida in two years. That's when you graduate, right?"
"That's perfect. When you graduate you can move into the apartment. The rent is good, that's one less thing to worry about for you."
Her jaw dropped. Inviting her to live with her was one thing, but she didn't expect to inherit the apartment of her dreams. "W─What … You're giving me the apartment?"
"Of course. It would be a waste if I didn't. It will still be in my name and you will be subletting it."
"Oh my God! A─Are you sure?"
"Honey, I know you will take good care of it. When you're going home for Thanksgiving, come by so I can give you a copy of the keys. I'm gonna be traveling a lot, if you come to the city for a weekend, you can stay there."
Monica was on the verge of tears, she felt her throat tightening up. "I don't know what to say."
"Just say thank you and water my plants."
"I will. Thank you."
As Thanksgiving approached, Monica's emotions ran high.
She's never been happier in her life. She was studying for her dream job, she had lost all the weight in less than a year, she was more confident and optimistic about the future.
In less than two years, she would graduate and move to the city. All on her own, in the most amazing apartment.
She would do it, she was gonna make it in the greatest city in the world.
One year ago, she was crying in her room, alone in the dark, over a guy.
He was coming again for Thanksgiving dinner. What's his deal? Who doesn't go home for Thanksgiving two years in a row?
Dinner would start in about an hour, Rachel helped her with the make-up one last time before going downstairs.
The plan was simple and effective, there was no vengeance needed. Rachel picked up a beautiful, sexy dress for her and was adamant she looked fabulous in it.
Maybe he would apologize? Not for calling her fat, that was meant to be behind her back, but for being a rude and insensitive jerk that day.
Maybe he wouldn't recognize her, and his mouth would fall open.
Or maybe he wouldn't even notice her.
The plan was that she would look great, then starve him off of any attention.
She wasn't going to, anyway.
She glanced again at the mirror, she felt glowing from inside out, a smile spreading on her face.
It didn't matter. For once in her life, she had a lot to be thankful for, and she owed it all to herself. Gone was last year's bitter memory. She had a good feeling about this day.
Nothing that felt this right could go wrong.
Thanksgiving 1988 would be one to remember for years to come.
She heard the bell ring downstairs and a few seconds later, her mother calling her. She put in her best earrings, encouraging herself in the mirror, "You can do this."
Monica descended the stairs. Chandler was standing there with Ross and her parents,
She saw the look on his face, and at that moment decided to take full advantage of her moment of glory.
No worries, I'm still working on The Space In Between (expect a new chapter soon hopefully), this is just a fun idea I wanted to explore. Might do a similar "year in the life"/character study story for the other friends if people are interested.
Thanks for reading!