- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 28, 2002

The roast turkey has come a-calling: There is hubbub in the kitchen, admiration at the table and angst among hungry dieters, who have obsessed about this moment for weeks.
Between appetizers, main course and dessert, Americans will consume up to 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat today, according to the Atlanta-based Calorie Control Council (www.caloriecontrol.org). Combined, that's more than twice the average daily calorie intake and almost 3.5 times the fat.
But hey, this is Thanksgiving.
Around the country, historic spots vie to present the most authentic Thanksgiving repasts for discerning diners who relish, well, Colonial fare.
Philadelphia's old City Tavern offers a champagne shrub and turkey with oysters. Up in Old Sturbridge Village, Conn., the Publick House has rolled out "American Heritage dinners," which boast turkey along with scrod, lobster pie and Indian pudding.
Plimouth Plantation, site of the Pilgrims' famous 1621 dining experience, has not one, but three versions of Thanksgiving dinner today: "Traditional," "Victorian" and "Colonial," which include, among other things, "Ciderkin, Cheate Bread, a Sallet of Herbs, Mussels Seeth'd with Parsley and Beer and a Chine of Pork, Roast'd."
Diners there can choose to eat in true Miles Standish fashion with no utensils and a very large napkin. All three dinners have been sold out for weeks.
"One of the reasons our historic dining programs are so popular is that food provides a very accessible and tasty bridge to the past," notes Kathleen Curtin, the plantation's food historian.
"We were careful to pick dishes that are rooted in the familiar," she said, noting they don't serve blood pudding. "But they give a real glimpse into 17th-century English or Wampanoag tastes."
Beyond flavor, diners can learn how people in the past thought about food. "Folks are surprised to learn that the English in Plymouth disliked lobster, for example, because they were forced to eat it so often."
Outside of deep-fried turkey and maybe pumpkin cheesecake, the contemporary American menu has not changed all that much in the past 50 years. American attitudes toward eating and weight, however, are not the same, according to Gallup, which has released a new survey just in time for turkey day.
The polling group has gone into its archives to chart the changes. Americans, it seems, know darned well they're heavy, but they're not keen on remedying the situation.
Back in 1951, Gallup found that 31 percent of Americans thought they needed to diet. This year, the number has jumped to 58 percent. Five decades ago, 19 percent vowed they would go on a diet; the figure has only risen to 24 percent today.
"That's what's fascinating about this," said survey director Frank Newport. "There's this big jump in consciousness and perception about needing to lose weight. But the flesh is weak here there's only a 5 [percentage point] rise in those who say they will try and lose weight."
But each of us has a dream weight we'd like to be these days, a magic number we hope shows up on the bathroom scale, the survey found.
American men believe their "ideal" weight is 181. The reality? Their average weight was actually 193. American women, on the other hand, dream of weighing 134. The average weight was actually 153.
Gallup also found that women were a lot more guilty about their weight than men. About 45 percent of the men said they needed to lose weight, while more than 66 percent of the women agreed.
"That's just a colossally high figure," Mr. Newport said. "Now, we don't know exactly what these women weigh. Still, two-thirds of them think they need to lose it, regardless."
Women tend to be dietary role models for their children, according to the American Dietetic Association (ADA). If mom tucks into the turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy but forgoes the broccoli tomorrow, chances are her children will as well.


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