Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Getting Dressed

Yesterday, at the Christmas Potluck, I turned to Y, who had brought a salad, and asked, "did you already dress the salad?"

Y, and the rest of my dining companions, stopped all conversation and stared at me as if I had sprouted another head. "What?"

Yet again, my confidence in my mastery of the English language was shaken to the core. Isn't "dress the salad" correct? Is it a Southern-only saying? Or simply part of my family's weird conversational style? Is my family the only one which dresses a salad ... as opposed to "pours on the salad dressing" (or something else as equally linguistically awkward)?*

Speaking of dressing, do you call the herbed bread you eat with turkey stuffing or dressing?

I've always rationalized it thusly: If the herbed bread is cooked inside the dead bird, it is stuffing. If it is cooked separate from the bird, it is dressing. I have no idea if that's correct, but it makes sense to me. And that's how I explained it to my students in Japan.

The word of VUBOQ for the people of VUBOQ.
Thanks be to VUBOQ.

*The other option would be that my dining companions were stupid.


  1. I have never dressed a salad, but in my world, your take on dressing vs stuffing is correct.
    That being the case, if you put the dressing on the table, would you say the table is dressed? ;-)

  2. pacalaga: No, the condiments are provided. Unless you have applied the dressing directly to the table without benefit of a containment device such as a bowl or bottle. And then I'd worry about you. The table is dressed if it has table linens applied.

    VUBOQ, it makes perfect sense to me. I would know exactly what you mean if you ask me whether the salad is dressed. As for stuffing vs dressing, I just go with my gut. Or my mouth. So often words and thoughts flow out of my mouth before I have a chance to edit them.

  3. irisgirl5:14 PM

    Dear VUBOQ: Well, I have never lived south of Chicago(except for those 2 years in "Springpatch" Il that I've tried to erase from my memory), and we have always "dressed" the salad. A naked salad results in goosebumps, which are hard to digest.

    Also, in my lexicon and family folklore, the herbed-bread cube mixture that you STUFF into a turkey has ALWAYS been called---drumstick roll please---STUFFING. Even when you bake the extra that doesn't fit into the bird coz Mom always made too much. And even that one weird year when crazy Aunt Lulu read in some magazine at the beauty parlor that you shouldn't put the stuffing inside the bird coz of some bacteria whose-its that no one understood, and was too scared to challenge Aunt Lulu about, after her 3rd Rum and Tab.

    Have a shimmering New Year's!

  4. I'd have understood you perfectly, even though I don't recall anyone in my family ever saying "dress the salad". We do, however, make the stuffing/dressing distinction, and my preference has always been for a good, moist cornmeal dressing. Nowadays with giblet-less gravy.

  5. I completely understand what you mean when saying "dressed the salad". You're friends must be heathens.

    Around here if it's a bread like substance that goes in a turkey, even if it is the extra that won't fit and is cooked separately, it's called stuffing.

  6. i agree with just me, your frinds are heathens. mom always dressed the salad because it's called "salad dressing" right on the bottle.

  7. But if you contemplate for any significant length of time, you could conclude that the term "salad dressing" is kind of stupid anyway. We use it because it is an accepted part of the lexicon, and off the top of my bacteria-infested head I can think of no other apropriate term. So we use "salad dressing." But it is a silly designation, IMHO. And I have lots of HOs, some not so H.

  8. What the hell else would you do with a salad other than dress it? Do they think "salad" is the pickle in a Maccers burger?

    {I sheepishly admit I've never heard of Turkey "dressing"}

    STUFFING?! How bloody simple is it?! The clue is in the WORD!

  9. If it's wheat bread based it's more likely to be called 'stuffing' and original recipes were made with the intent of stuffing an actual uncooked bird. 'Dressing' is a term Southerners especially seem to apply to cornbread-based dishes although I have the feeling you're right that it's the proper term for anything that didn't have to be scraped out of the turkey.

  10. Dressing is something my southern family members say, and I refer to as stuffing.

    I think a lot of it is regional. *shrug*

  11. The food blogger David Lebovitz just posted a stuffing vs. dressing rant. He agrees that it should be called stuffing, and I consider him to be a good authority on things.

    Here it is:

  12. Never heard that term before...

    Maybe it IS a southern thing.