Pass the gravy? Have some dressing?
At my table, we say, pass the gravy at Thanksgiving and for a spaghetti dinner.
We also say – pass the dressing. Stuffing is something other folks say.
I don’t know whether it’s cultural, ethic, genetic, regional, block-by-block, town-by-town, or city-by-city.
You can look up the etymology of a word, but your family/nature/nurture almost certainly dictates what you really call it.
At my table, turkey gravy begins with the guts found packed inside the turkey, mixed with flour, heated right in the turkey pan, and only used for turkey.
Nowadays, I just throw those innards away and pour jar of off-the-shelf turkey gravy into the drippings while they’re still in the pan. Heating it up, (over a gas stove), scrapings and fat and all, it’s always perfect & never lumpy.
Brown gravy was to make something look and taste beefy, whether or not it had beef it in ~ poured over broad egg noodles, (maybe as a leftover with hamburger bits? Remember having leftover hamburgers?) or spooned into the depression in the mashed potatoes. Brown gravy comes in jars or packets, unless you really cook a beef roast. And there is a difference in the real and the faux when it comes to brown gravy.
Tomato sauce may be for spaghetti, but back in the day, on my ol’ block in da’ Bronx, the red stuff was gravy. So, you said: how long you been cookin’ the gravy? how much gravy you want? just put some gravy on a plate and I’ll use a slice of Wonder to sop it up.
Wonder was the only bread we knew and is still the best soft, white bread ever ~ one of the first comfort foods! Although, now I buy Wonder Wheat – it’s MUCH better toasted.
As for stuffing, an uncle by marriage, inadvertently clarified it for me. After killing that big, bull elk, he told everyone that it was 400 pounds dressed . So, “dressed” meant, after the stuffin’s have been taken out; therefore stuffing means, the stuff you’re stuffed with.
So, to me and mine, stuffing is what you find in your teddy bear.
Dressing has always been bags of Pepperidge Farm stuffing, (‘cause it says so on the bag), with Bell’s Seasoning added. That little yellow, old-fashioned box is the aroma of my Thanksgiving. http://www.pepperidgefarm.com/holiday/holidaycategory.aspx?catID=926&pd=yes
And between sauce and gravy ~ Gravy is red, brown or white, while sauce is always a question: “What color is the sauce, please, so I know what kind of gravy to expect”!
Yours, ‘til, Kate