It is said you can unravel the tastes of a man by cut of his cloth. But who knows (without looking at the label) if his suit hasn't been plucked from the flesh-bins at Syms.

Certainly it is more revealing to see what food he's selected for the checkout counter.

Exhibit A: Gainesburger, bulk bags of oranges, Gatorade, Granola, rib eye steak, 4 for $1 canned spaghetti and meat balls and roll-on deodorant.

He is probably an insensitive brute (likely a volunteer rugby player), who biggest culinary kick is carbohydrate overloading before the big game and swig of bile-green sugar water afterwards for electrotyte replenishment.

Exhibit B: Watercress, tinned anchovies, baby shampoo, veal roast, pomegranates, Finn crisp, butter, sweetbreads, silver polish and aspirin.

The guy probably did his senior year abroad, hoped for a job at the World Bank but settled for a GS-9 elsewhere and rarely eats at home.

But the man who has a catholic selection of fancy food wedged between the staples knows food fachion.

If he buys eggs (which he can crack like Michael Cain in "Alfie" effortlessly with one hand), he knows better than to make eggs Benedict. He can spot a new potato from an old potato, he can detect the delicate difference between gnocchi and tagliarini, keeps five different kind of lettuce in the crisper bin and doesn't own a microwave oven.

Keeping abreast of culinary snobbism is simple. Just consider these tenets, clip out the list below and throw it away in three months:

Never cook a dish that appears under "specialties of the house" on the menu of Georgetown bar.

If your mother is onto it, forget it.

Be suspicious of any story or recipe you read in the ladies' magazines. By the time they catch on, it's already out.

If a movie star, rock singer or preseidential candidate is photographed eating it, it's out.

If you bay if frozen, freeze-dried or prepared it's out.

If it's "old-fashioned" "natural" or "gourmet," it's out.

It it's stuffed, tiered (chicken Cordon Bleu), breaded or augratin, it's out. (TABLE) OUT Soft shell crabs(COLUMN)Surf and turf Chili(COLUMN)Chunky soup Sugar snap peas(COLUMN)Crudities and yogurt dip Avacado pear vinaigrette(COLUMN)Guacamole Seviche(COLUMN)Chef salad Raw squash(COLUMN)Bean sprouts Grolsch(COLUMN)Light beer Shad Roe(COLUMN)Eggs Benedict Unsalted butter(COLUMN)Parkay Salt cellers & spoons(COLUMN)Sea salt mills Coffee with chicory(COLUMN)Herbal teas Chutney(COLUMN)Dijon mustard Kiwi fruit(COLUMN)Cateloupe Sushi(COLUMN)Steak tartar Poach(COLUMN)Stir fry Innards(COLUMN)Roast beef Cornichons(COLUMN)Bread & butter pickles Crayfish(COLUMN)Clams casino Demararra sugar(COLUMN)Sweet & Low Multi-course meals(COLUMN)Casseroles Thai food(COLUMN)Chinese food Rye Crisps(COLUMN)Melba toast Grapeseed, walnut or olive oil(COLUMN)Poly-unsaturated oil Fish forks(COLUMN)Gold tooth picks Aspic(COLUMN)Jello Mongolian hot pots(COLUMN)Woks Fennel and sorrel(COLUMN)Shives Dry vermouth(COLUMN)Shite wine spritzers Chapattis(COLUMN)Pita Swiss chard(COLUMN)Spinach(END TABLE)

There also are the classic gray flannel and blue blazers of foods that are never out: Asparagus, basil, mangos, lobster (but bibs are out), caviar, ice tea with fresh mint, anchovies, artichokes, wild rice, new potatoes in parsley butter, strawberries. CAPTION: Illustration, no caption, By Glenn Mosser for the Washington Post