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Dressing vs. Stuffing

Posted by ESC on November 27, 2003

The question was asked, in another forum: what do you call the seasoned bread crumb mixture served with (and sometimes baked in) the Thanksgiving turkey?

Doing a little research I looked for "dressing" in the definitive, every-slang-word-in-the-U.S. "Dictionary of American Regional English," (Volume II) by Frederic G. Cassidy , chief editor, (1991, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., and London, England). Guess what? It didn't have "dressing" as in stuffing. It had dressing as a sweet sauce, frosting, sugar and cream in one's coffee, gravy, manure used as fertilizer, and, in hoodoo, something applied to an object to give it magical power. I couldn't look up "stuffing" because the St- volume is a work in progress.

However, in another reference it says: "Although American cookbooks gave recipes for 'forcemeat' (a 17th century word, from French 'farcir,' to stuff) most Americans called it 'stuffing' until the 1880s; then 'dressing' somehow seemed more refined and slowly became our most common word for it." From "Listening to America" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982).