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Dressing's only civilized option

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

There have been great debates throughout history. The chicken or the egg. Fate or free will. Indiana Jones or Chuck Norris. But the debate that comes to light this time of year is understandably one that's even more personal: Dressing or stuffing.

I seldom discuss religion or politics. I shy away from controversy and make it a priority to stay out of it. However, there are times when a person just has to take a stand. This is one of them.

Dressing is better than stuffing.

There are those who disagree with me. And since we are fortunate to live in a democratic society where everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, I can truthfully say that those people are wrong and I am right.

An acquaintance, Susan, is a staunch supporter of stuffing.

"My mother made stuffing and it was delicious. It is very civilized," she told me. She went on to say that her mother also puts olives in her stuffing. I stepped back out of fear that lightning was about to her. Was she intimating that dressing is not civilized?

I grew up with dressing -- big, hot pans of it fresh from the oven. Crumbled, homemade cornbread tossed with onions and broth and seasoning galore and cooked to a deep golden brown. Not crispy, mind you, but just the slightest bit of teeny tiny crunch on top, protecting that warm, soft, slap-your-grandma good inside that's only complete when you slather it with gravy made from the most perfect mix of both and slithers of boiled eggs and giblets.

"Did your mama cook it inside the turkey?" I asked her, amazed and deeply concerned at the same time. How could you eat something like that? Is it even safe?

"Yes, mother cooks it the proper way. Inside the roast bird," she answered me, putting emphasis on "mother" and "proper." Now she was just trying to make me mad. I wanted to remind her that she was south of the Mason-Dixon line now, and it wasn't "proper" to bash the way our "mamas" cook.

My children don't know what stuffing is.

"They eat cotton?" my daughter said once when she was smaller, hearing on television someone discuss having stuffing with their turkey. The only stuffing she knew of was the kind that came out when the dog tried to eat her stuffed animals.

"No, baby," I explained. "That's just how some people do it at Thanksgiving. They cook stale bread inside the turkey and put things like raisins and cranberries in it."

"Gross," she said, and made a gagging sound.

I couldn't have said it better.

I know I am being harsh. It's not like me to be so mean-spirited and opinionated on a subject. But it became most evident to me this week that I must take a stand when I came across a cooking segment on television where the host was preparing a "traditional" Thanksgiving meal. There was a turkey. Cranberry sauce. And stuffing -- with cheese and apricots.

The world is surely about to end.

Cornbread dressing lovers of the world, unite. It is time we come together and declare our mama's cornbread dressing the Official side dish of Thanksgiving. We owe it to our children and our grandchildren and generations to come.

And don't forget the gravy.

Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at flyn1862@bellsouth.net.