Don't Mess With My Stuffing: Thanksgiving's Most Hotly Debated Dish : The Salt Thanksgiving for most people in America means family, turkey and stuffing. We asked NPR's readers what stuffing they make. Turns out there's a lot of passion and variety when it comes to stuffing.
NPR logo

Don't Mess With My Stuffing: Thanksgiving's Most Hotly Debated Dish

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/456824626/456989178" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Don't Mess With My Stuffing: Thanksgiving's Most Hotly Debated Dish

Don't Mess With My Stuffing: Thanksgiving's Most Hotly Debated Dish

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/456824626/456989178" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It's almost Thanksgiving, which for most people in America means turkey and stuffing and family - but most importantly, stuffing. And we asked you what kind of stuffing do you make at home. We got a lot of answers and a lot of recipes. But one thing was clear. Some of you are very, very attached to your stuffing recipes, like Amy Meredith of Rochester, N.Y., who said she grew up with a simple bread stuffing, her mother's recipe. And then one year, she went to her boyfriend's house for Thanksgiving, where they served something a little different.

AMY MEREDITH: As soon as I took my first bite, I realized my mistake because I got a mouthful of what can only be described as fishy, slimy gob of grossness.

MARTIN: It was oyster stuffing, and she was not used to it. And she actually cried.

MEREDITH: That stuffing represented for me everything that felt wrong. I was so homesick. And it was the wrong food and the wrong family. And I just cried.

MARTIN: Everything worked out for Amy. She married that boyfriend, and now his family serves their stuffing with the oysters on the side. But why was her reaction to their stuffing so strong? We turned to WEEKEND EDITION food commentator Bonny Wolf for answers. She joins us in studio. Hey, Bonny.

BONNY WOLF, BYLINE: Hi, Rachel.

MARTIN: What is it about stuffing, Bonny? Why is it so sacred?

WOLF: Well, I think Thanksgiving is the most evocative holiday for eating. And you could have turkey other times of the year. You could have possibly even cranberries. But stuffing really is connected to Thanksgiving. And so many things go into it. And there's so many things that tie it to where you grew up, what the traditions are in your home, that I think people are just really, really attached to their stuffing.

MARTIN: Let's step back for a second because we also noticed a lot of strong opinions about what stuffing should even be called, right? There's a debate about this.

WOLF: Yeah (laughter). This - a lot of people wrote in and said, stuffing is for Thanksgiving; dressing is for your salad. Other people said, dressing is for Thanksgiving; stuffing is for a teddy bear. So we had a lot of this. And it's also a regional difference. The people north of the Mason-Dixon Line say stuffing in general. People south of the Mason-Dixon Line say dressing, except for a few people in the Midwest who also call it dressing. And then there are people in central Pennsylvania who call it filling. It's mostly Pennsylvanian Dutch, Amish. And it's often made with mashed potatoes and rye bread.

MARTIN: I don't know if we've cleared this up at all. But thanks, thanks for that, Bonny.

WOLF: Sure. Sure.

MARTIN: Another thing we noticed interesting, stuffing doesn't have to be from a homemade recipe to create emotional resonance with a person, right?

WOLF: Oh, absolutely. A lot of people wrote in about Stove Top Stuffing. There was one woman who wrote in and said, Stove Top Stuffing always and forever. You can pry the red box from my cold, dead hands.

MARTIN: (Laughter). Hey, whatever floats your boat. Whatever tastes good, right? Are there any other trends in stuffing recipes we should talk about, Bonny?

WOLF: Well, I think trends and stuffing are words that don't belong in the same sentence because people are so stuck on the stuffing they're familiar with. My son wants the stuffing that he grew up with, which is a wild rice stuffing. And I'd like to try something else, which he says is fine as long as we also have the wild rice stuffing.

MARTIN: So you can change it up, but you still have to produce the tried and true stuff for your family that your son expects.

WOLF: Exactly.

MARTIN: Bonny Wolf is a Washington, D.C.-based food writer. She's been talking with us about stuffing, dressing. Call it what you like; it's delicious. Thanks so much, Bonny. Happy Thanksgiving.

WOLF: And to you too, Rachel.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.