I talked to mum-in-law C. today, and told her I'd made shepherd's pie at his request, and asked her a little about the version she made when he was a kid. She said her ex-husband G. called it China something or other, and she had no idea why, but affirmed that the meat-and-veg was really meat-and-corn, and those layers were distinct (obviously, the potato on top needs to be distinct). She said she made sure to drain all liquids (from the meat, from the canned corn) because otherwise the potatos sank. So that was interesting.
I decided to pursue this whole China angle, and found this almost instantly:
Which referenced this:
The wikipedia entry mentions ketchup when eating this thing, which R. also mentioned. Clearly, I have stumbled across One Of Those Things, like candied sweet potatos with marshmallows on top, which even _after_ it is explained, makes very little sense. I guess you just have to grow up with it. G. grew up in Berlin, NH, of French-Canadian heritage.
I'm _not_ participating in that, however. I might make it if lobbied, but I'm not eating that. I loathe creamed corn.