As a child growing up in England, Maureen Roseman had to leave her parents and flee to the country to avoid Hitler's bombers during World War II.
And even though she's lived in the United States for about six decades now, the Atlantic City woman has warm memories of her homeland and the food she grew up with. She's also served as an ambassador of sorts for at least one very special English dish she learned from her mother.
"My mother's trifle tastes so good - it's delicious. Anyone who has ever had it, the reaction is always the same. It's always, 'Oh my God, can I have the recipe?'" Roseman said. "At first I was hesitant to share it, but then I thought, 'Why not - that's how we got it.'"
The dessert, made with sponge cake, raspberries and sherry, is a very English dish, Roseman said.
"In England, even if you go to a five-star restaurant, there is trifle on the menu," she said. "The thing with trifle is that it always tastes different. Everybody makes it just a little different."
Roseman was born in London, the only child of George and Evelyn Ellingham. Life was good, until war came and her small family, like thousands of others in the England, saw their safe, normal lives disappear.
Roseman's father joined the army and was one of the British soldiers evacuated from the beaches at Dunkirk when the Nazis conquered France. With German bombers attacking British cities, the decision was made to evacuate the children.
Roseman spent the next four years living with a couple in rural Yorkshire.
"I was very lucky. I was living with lovely people and it was a great country," she said. "I have nice memories."
The trip also paid off in another way. It was while in Yorkshire that Roseman's mother acquired a recipe for Yorkshire Pudding - a dish that remains a family favorite.
After the war ended, Roseman's parents worked in their green-grocer shop, but times were difficult in England. The family decided to move to the United States, where two of Evelyn Ellingham's sisters already were living.
"We came over to the land of opportunity - which, for us, it was," Roseman said. "My parents were very hard-working people, so they made their opportunities, God bless them."
The Ellinghams lived in New York and in Florida. Roseman's father owned a restaurant and her mother once was employed as a "stroker" at a Fanny Farmer chocolate factory, putting the decorative marks on boxed chocolates.
The family settled in the Chelsea neighborhood of Atlantic City in 1954. Her father purchased a jitney. Her mother worked as a waitress at Huylers restaurant on the Boardwalk. Evelyn Ellingham worked the breakfast and lunch shift, so she always was home in time to prepare dinners for her family.
The family ate mostly "very plain food, not a lot of dressings or rich food," Roseman said. But if her mother made a leg of lamb, it always was served with the Yorkshire pudding recipe Ellingham had learned during the war.
The family also enjoyed another English dish, fish and chips - but this had a southern New Jersey twist, since Ellingham's mother always made it with flounder she bought from fishermen based in the Inlet section of Atlantic City.
Roseman learned a lot during those late afternoons spent watching her mother work in the kitchen.
"I was always very interested in what she was doing. I was always hands on with mother. When she made the fish and chips, she showed me how to make the batter," Roseman said.
Roseman graduated from Atlantic City High School in 1956. She married Robert Newman, a manager of the Acme in Somers Point. Roseman worked too, first for the phone company in Atlantic City, then as a nurse at Shore Memorial Hospital and for doctors. She still does nursing work at Caring, a medical daycare center in Pleasantville.
The couple had three children, Lois Kelly, now a trauma nurse at Atlantic City Medical Center's City division; Lisa Nagle, who is raising her family in Ventnor Heights; and George Newman, who now lives in Alabama, where he is married and raising two sons.
Widowed, Roseman later married Sy Roseman, a publicist for the International Boxing Association.
Now widowed a second time, Roseman - who lived in Linwood for about five decades - is back in Atlantic City, living at the Plaza, where she enjoys being in the midst of things.
"Now I feel I've come full circle. I love it here. I'm looking out the window, at the Boardwalk and ocean - what's not to like about the ocean, the beach and the Boardwalk?" she said.
Roseman frequently visits England, but she need not travel across the Atlantic to be reminded of her childhood and native land.
That happens any time there's a party, and Roseman is asked to bring her trifle to share.
"If I'm invited anywhere, I always ask 'Can I bring something?' and they always say 'Oh Maureen, can you make the trifle?'" Roseman said. "Whenever there is something special and the question is, 'What will we have for dessert?' the trifle is always sitting in the middle of the table."
Contact Steven Cronin:
•1/2 to 1 cup
•sherry (for nonalcoholic version, use cran-raspberry juice)
•1 angel-food cake
•1 small jar of
•2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
•of mixed fruit
•or fruit cocktail
•1 pint Birds Custard mix or
•3-ounce package of vanilla-pudding mix (prepared according to directions on label)
•of raspberry Jello, semi-set (prepared according to directions on label)
•1 pint heavy
•1 teaspoon sugar
Slice angel food cake horizontally in two layers. Place one layer in bottom of a trifle bowl (or glass or crystal bowl). Pierce cake with fork to allow juices to soak through. Spread jam on first layer of cake. Pour half the sherry or juice and allow it to soak into the cake. Spoon drained fruit and raspberries on the first layer. Pour on half the custard and half the semi-set Jell-O. Repeat process for the second layer.
Chill in refrigerator for at least two hours. It can be made ahead and chilled overnight. Before serving, beat heavy whipping cream and sugar until peaks form. Spread on top of trifle. Top with sprinkles. Serve in glass dishes. Use large spoon and scoop down to bottom of bowl when serving.