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Dressing or stuffing

Posted by Masakim on November 27, 2003

In Reply to: Dressing or stuffing posted by al 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: An Illustrated History of Words and Phrases from Our Lively and Splendid Past by Stuart Berg Flexner (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982).
: : : :

: : : I well remember in the 70s we had reports (spoof ones I suspect) in the British Media that polite society in the US were covering up the legs of chairs and tables so as not to offend their sensibilities. Here in the UK we prefer naked legs and stuffing.

: : I am afraid, at least according to the history books and Mr. Flexner, we did cover up table and chair legs.

: Rural middle US at midcentury; "dressing" and "stuffing" were largely interchangeable words when referencing the foodstuff.

1. A sauce -- usually cold -- used to coat or top salads and some cold vegetable, fish and meat dishes.
2. A mixture used to stuff poultry, fish, meat and some vegetables. It can be cooked separately or in the food in which it is stuffed. Dressings (also called _stuffings_) are usually well seasoned and based on breadcrumbs or cubes -- though rice, potatoes and other foods are also used.
From _Food Lover's Companion_ (Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 1990) by Sharon Tyler Herbst