I don’t like dressing. Maybe you call it stuffing. After a bit of research I realize stuffing/dressing both describe the same dish. One comes out of a turkey, the other out of a pan. Either way, I don’t like it. Unamerican, unsouthern… I realize that.
So I have been analyzing my dislike. Perhaps it is because one can’t develop a taste for it having it once a year. Even then it’s not always served by the same cook. It seems there are as many variations as there are rocks on a gravel bar. Pretty much all made of the same stuff, some wetter than others, some color variations, but all different even if only slightly.
And the age of the cook doesn’t seem to matter to my taste buds, either. Both grandmas had special dishes I loved, that they prepared differently than Mom did. Had they been on a food network sharing their dressing recipe with the world, yuck. I still would not have liked it.
In my analysis I have studied the ingredients of various versions. I love cornbread, stale bread not so much. Other dressing staples are pretty normal, but I can’t say I prefer one with or without sausage. Both unacceptable to me once the dish is served.
The whole moist or dry issue isn’t one at all if there is gravy on the table. I do like gravy.
But even gravy doesn’t completely eradicate that dressing taste I don’t like. What is the culprit? Is it the celery? I love a crunchy celery stick loaded with peanut butter or French onion dip, but neither of those makes it into a dressing, at least not in the recipes I scanned.
Or is it the sage? Hmmm. I don’t recall seeing that particular little McCormick container in our pantry as a kid. Poultry seasoning was there, as was cinnamon for cinnamon toast, paprika for deviled eggs, nutmeg for pumpkin pies, but sage? No. Perhaps Mom is to blame for my dislike of dressing for not introducing sage to my tongue sooner.
If Mom fixed this seasonal dish, she most likely stuffed it into the bird. I seldom ate more than part of a leg so I never sampled the innards. I have outgrown the need to keep all my food from touching on the plate, but as a child guided by that rule, stuffing was contaminated from the git-go.
One time I made stuffing, the bag kind. It’s hard to prepare a dish one doesn’t enjoy for others to savor. It’s impossible to get a family recipe. I can’t find one stuck among the pages of any of the old cookbooks. It must have been buried with them along with the secrets to homemade biscuits, cornbread, fried pie dough and that fudge with a bit of texture to it. No googled recipe even gets close to satisfying my tastebuds and memories of those favorites. I have tried.
With no one around to monitor my manners, I no longer take half a spoonful just to be polite. I skip it and take extra of something I do like. Except at my brother’s holiday meals. Now, my sister-in-law has dressing that looks and smells appetizing and I have gone back for seconds. Of dressing. I don’t want the recipe. I don’t want her secret. I just want to eat and enjoy.
May you enjoy your dressing with all the trimmings! Happy Thanksgiving!