IT JUST goest to show that everybody has friends. At least in California. A squid subculture is reported to be forming in Santa Cruz, drumming up membership for the Friends of the Calamari. In celebration of the squid, they plan to host parties, rallies, performances and gallery showings of squid-shaped sculptures, squid-embossed pottery and mixed-media paintings (no mention of pen-and-squid-ink drawings). It all grew out of the First (and presumably not last) International Calamari Festival, where feasting on squid was accompanied by squid poems, songs, etiquette and aphorisms, even a modern squid morality play. To become a friend of squid, write India Joze, 1001 Center St., Santa Cruz, Calif. 95060. As with nearly everything else, squid even has its own catalogue, with squid cookbooks, buttons, T-shirts and a calendar of calamari fashions. Owl collectors, move over.
The success of light beer couldn't go unnoticed for long, certainly not by American winemakers. Taylor Wine Co. is beginning to market "soft" wines, low in alcohol (9 percent) and lightly carbonated, modeled after Italian lambrusco, which has a similarly low alcohol content. Unlike light beers, however, these "soft" wines are not lower in calories than their regular counterparts, because of their sweetness. Low-calorie wines, however, will not be far behind. In fact, Taylor is planning to bottle them next month, then market "in a forceful manner" California Cellars Light Chablis with 48 calories per 4-ounce serving, compared to 62 calories for their regular chablis.
It is one thing to read the recipe of a renowned chef; but to learn by watching him prepare it, that is a real opportunity. Thus it is worth check whether space, is still available in the International Cooking Courses being conducted on Tuesday mornings and afternoons during the next two months at L'Academie de Cuisine to benefit the Homemaker Health Aide Services (638-2382). Next Tuesday, Yannick Cam of Le Pavillon is demonstrating the preparation of lobster and squid in anchovy-wine sauce to start his four-course menu -- and the series. Demonstrations by Roland Bouyat and Denis Gult of the Bread Oven and Nagi Lueng of China Garden will complete Series II includes Luis Reyes of La Plaza Henry Dinardo of The Broker, and Jean-Pierre Goyenvalle of Le Lion d'Or. Series III chefs are Dino Angiolillo and Muostafa A. Youins of the Saudi Arabian embassy, Alain Binot of Dominique's and Luigi Zara of the Georgetown Club. Every class includes written recipes, "ample tastings" of each dish and wine. Each three-lesson series costs $75, but enrollment in a single class is possible for $30, if space is available. If you just want to enjoy food without the lesson, you can buy tickets to the Gourmet Gala at the embassy of Saudi Arabia, May 6, for $40 a person. Cooking courses and gala are tax deductible.
Someone's In The Kitchen, and it's a group consisting of one lawyer, one computer specialist and one paralegal, cooking and serving dinner in black tie. Bruce Eggers (lawyer and specialist in Mexican food), Joe Kaiser (legal consultant on computers who loves cooking French food but hates to follow recipes) and Chuck Rounds (paralegal who enjoys cooking Chinese food) have launched a new catering company. Someone's In The Kitchen (244-5053) is their first professional cooking venture, but one buffet dinner of pork stuffed with hazelnuts, and veal with creamy raisin and almond sauce netted them two more assignments on the spot. The problem with grocers that deliver -- besides their having become an endangered species -- is that they are often expensive and rarely will include sale prices in their deliveries. The Galloping Grocery Shippers will do your marketing at whatever store you specify, even checking at another store if the first is out of an item; then they will deliver your groceries at the time you designate, all for a flat fee of $10 to $15, depending on your location. They are even willing to stop at the post office or drug store for you. The Galloping Grocery Shoppers consist, at the moment, of Maxine Moyerman (548-277l), and her operating hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays. She requires that the grocery list be very specific and note acceptable substitutes. She shops for senior citizens -- who often join together for one order -- handicapped and working people who have neither the time nor the inclination to shop. Moyerman herself was one of those who never liked to shop, but that was because she didn't have a list to follow and was spending her own money. Spending other people's money and earning some for herself makes it clearly more interesting to her.
No, Washington still does not have a real New York kosher deli. But it does now have foods from that most famous of Manhattan's kosher dairy restaurants, Ratner's. The soups are thick and homey, especially the mushroom-barley; the pirogen and blintzes are stuffed as full as a Jewish mother would stuff a hungry child; the cheesecake is rich and fluffy, though a bit soggy; and the onion rolls taste as if they come from the Lower East Side -- which, of course, they do. These Ratner's foods are made in a kitchen above the store, at least so far, then flash-frozen. Look for them in frozen food sections of fancy food shops and delicatessens, and expect to pay about $4 for the blintzes (6 per bos), the potato pirogen (12 per box) or cheesecake, $189 for the 15-ounce soups, $1.39 for 6 onion rolls, They don't, however, include cheeky waiters.
If imported water no longer seems important, but you still like something bubbly, you can return to plain old-fashioned seltzer, now called Vintage Seltzer and now selling for a lot more than "2 cents plain." Just carbonated water, no salt and no calories, it sells for a least a penny an ounce these days (in 28-ounce bottles, 2 for 75 cents at Magruder's, 2 for $1.09 until March 15 at Capitol Hill Wine and Cheese). Magruder's reports that Vintage Seltzer is selling better than Perrier; in any case, it certainly sells cheaper than Perrier or even club soda.
An iron fist in a velvet glove is Cherchie's champagne mustard, newly arrived from Devon, Pa., and available in Washington at Ambrosia, Wagshal's and Georgetown Wine and Cheese, and in Virginia at Cheese & Bottle and Old Town Coffee, Tea and Spice for about $3.50 for a 10-ounce jar. Made of sugar, eggs, champagne vinegar and mustard, it is a creamy, thick condiment for cold meats or vegetables, a glaze for meats as-is, or for fish and seafood mixed with equal parts of mayonnaise. Tasted alone, it starts out sweet but ends with a kick that brings tears to your eyes, but brings you back for more