Just to be sure she would be serving up the "real" Shepherd's Pie, Marianna googled recipes on internet and it turns out the official Shepherd' Pie contains ground lamb meat. If it's just ground beef, the dish is supposed to be called "Cottage Pie".
Anyway, both are traditional Sunday dinners in England, and a great way to use any leftover vegetables you might have lying around.
You basically fry up the vegetables, some onions and the ground beef, put it in a dish, top it with mashed potatoes and pop it in the oven. (Actually, people all over the world make it, I think, but don't give it a nice name...)
While Marianna is preparing dinner, we discuss food linguistics again. (See the Scottish meal)
What she calls dinner, other English people call tea. According to Marianna, in New Zealand, they also call it tea. To call the evening meal tea seems very strange to us both, as you don't really drink tea with it!
Not that tea isn't important for her. She recently went back to the UK and surprised herself by taking back home a whole box of Twining's "Everyday" tea. Just because it tasted so much better than most tea you can buy in the Netherlands. It seems a very English thing to do.
In general, Marianna is quite assimilated and even fears adaptation problems when she goes back to the UK after graduation. In the end, all of her adult life was spent here, she knows "how things work". Heading back will mostly be motivated by the job opportunities there, else she would have stayed in the Netherlands for at least a few more years.
Another English standard is the Sunday roast, but generally, Marianna's parents favoured a more international cuisine.
For eating out, fish 'n chips is a classic, but seems to have been surpassed in popularity by "going for a curry". Marianna:"That's actually one of the things I miss: a good curry! There are hardly any good Indian restaurants here, while back home you can find a curry shop on every corner, more or less." I ask her why she doesn't buy some ready made curry sauce at the supermarket, but she professes to being too lazy to make her own Indian meal.
The Shepherd's Pie is fine, it feels healthy as well because Marianna added lots of vegetables. But of course I'm really waiting for the trifle! Yummy!
It consists of several layers: sponge cake, custard, red gelatin pudding and fruit. I'm not sure in which order, but the layers may be repeated. If you put it in a glass bowl you can admire all the different colours. The last layer is custard with some chocolate shavings to make it look good...it tastes fantastic. And of course, it's also very healthy because it contains a lot of fruit.
(The original post about this meal is from May 17, 2006)