This piece originally appeared on Travel + Leisure.
In the same vein of the tomato, to-mah-to and potato, po-tah-to debate, I always seem to find myself engaging in some sort of meaningless linguistic feud. My friends up north fight me tooth and nail that our favorite carbonated drink is called “pop.” When, really, all my true Southern babies know that it’s clearly “soda.” Or to many Atlantans, it’s simply called “coke.” I only bring up the war of words on food terminology to prepare you for one of the biggest and oldest food fights of them all that’s coming to a dinner table near you this holiday season. If you’re lucky enough to have relatives visiting for Thanksgiving who were born in various regions of this country, I’m willing to bet you’ll duke it out (whether for the first time or as part of an annual tradition) on whether a certain side dish of starch and vegetables should be called “stuffing” or “dressing.”
Perhaps this just happens in my family, but right up there with all the heated political and football discussions (Mom, I love you, but screw the Cowboys), is the whole stuffing vs. dressing conversation. No other food talk–no, not even how to properly carve a turkey–seems to get people going as much as our bird’s most loyal companion. So what’s the appropriate way to refer to it? Is there really a culinary distinction between stuffing or dressing? Well, much like the whole pop vs. soda controversy, the answer to that question depends on where you live.