While UK and the rest of Europe slept, the cast of The Woman In The House Across The Street From The Girl In The Window held a Twitter watch party for the first 2 episodes of the new Netflix comedy series. Tom Riley shared the photo above of hmself with Shelly Hennig. Check out the rest of the watch-a-long on Twitter.
A new interview with Tom and Kristen Bell has been posted by Netflix, which may clarify any confusion over the definitions of casserole and pie in the US and UK. Being in the UK, I was surprised to hear them describe slicing a casserole in the show.
Naturally, we have a few questions about this culinary choice. Let’s start at the beginning, though: What, exactly, is a casserole? And why are there so many in this murder mystery? Most people know that casseroles are baked dishes — comfort food at its most basic. More specifically, Merriam-Webster defines a casserole as being both the “dish in which food may be baked and served” and the “food cooked and served in a casserole.”
Needless to say, this was inconclusive, so we turned to our expert team of journalists to ask the very same question in an informal Slack poll. Here’s what we found: “A crust, dough pastry with various fillings,” said one writer. “A one-dish meal extremely tired parents bake in the oven,” wrote an editor. “A baked dish… 50% can-based,” another contributed. And finally: “Yum, now I want a casserole. I love casseroles.”
Now we’re getting somewhere. Still, we wanted even more details on casseroles, so we went straight to the source and asked The Woman in the House stars Kristen Bell and Tom Riley what they think about their co-starring dish. Bell, who plays the show’s main casserole enthusiast, Anna, says that while she doesn’t really make casseroles for her children, her Midwestern mom used to make her creations with frozen veggies, cream of mushroom soup, cheese and Ritz crackers.
But Bell herself has some questions about how we define a casserole, asking Tudum: "Is it like a one-dish thing? I've made Crockpot stuff, but if we're talking about some gluten and some tomatoes and some cheese and warming it up, then yeah, I've made a casserole."
Meanwhile, Riley, who plays Bell’s handsome (but maybe kind of suspicious) neighbor Neil, grew up in the U.K. and has an entirely different understanding of casseroles. "I think casseroles [in the U.S.] kind of have a top, right? Whereas a casserole in the U.K. is more of a stew, generally," he tells Tudum. "And they're kind of autumnal in their flavors. I'm talking squash; I'm talking very al dente carrots, and bay leaves.”
But here’s where things with Riley get spicy: “Casseroles, I think we just call them a pie, like a fish pie."
Riley's American wife tried his mother's homemade fish pie for the first time just two months ago, and she was totally confused, telling him, "I don't understand what you've done. It feels like you've just put a net into the ocean and then you've just put it into a dish and covered it in potato." But, he says, "That's fundamentally what fish pie is, and it's delicious." (For the record, fish pie involves seafood smothered in sauce, topped with mashed potatoes and baked in an oven.)
All of this is good to know, but it still doesn’t explain why there are so many casseroles in this murder-filled show. Maybe, though, the answer isn’t about what’s in a casserole, but how it makes you feel. As Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller says in his MasterClass, a casserole is something that is typically composed of “hearty comfort foods.” In a show filled with various forms of trauma, it makes sense, then, that the cozy casserole is a recurring theme. A casserole is the ideal dish to curl up with and eat when, say, it’s pouring outside or you’re about to accuse your hot new neighbor of murdering his girlfriend but, like, in a nice way.
But what doesn’t make sense? Why so many American casseroles contain canned soup. Riley has noticed this, too. "I feel like the main thing here that comes across is cream of mushroom soup plays a bigger role in casseroles [in the U.S.] than it does in the U.K.,” he says. “I feel like Campbell's are doing very well by casseroles in a way that they’re not in the U.K."