... honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none ...

Thomas Jefferson, inaugural address, March 4, 1801

For a time in the mid-'80s, during the Ice Cube War, Embassy Row and Washington society often snarled at each other. Fancy foreign purveyors of furs and food acted as though New York was the only place to visit, invest and entertain.

But no more. Two years before the Columbus quincentenary, at last the world has discovered Washington -- and Washington the world. This fall's social season has been notable for the strong influence of embassies and foreign merchants and investors and the widening of Washington's culinary horizons. What follow are a few nibbles so far.

After the Kennedy Center's "Shogun" performance, a select group that survived the typhoon, the earthquake, the assassinations, the gongs on stage and the invitation committee offstage sailed over to the cast party at the nearby {1250 24th St. NW} Unkai Restaurant. The evening was a preview as well for Unkai, which opened a few days later. The restaurant dispensed not only sushi and tempura but also the more elaborate kaiseki cuisine, with food turned into a painting on a plate, and ceremonially broke open a barrel of saki.

The National Gallery of Art and Mobil Corp., which had introduced the fortunate of Washington to the amazingly delicious Indonesian cuisine at the "Art of Indonesia" preview, cooked up another rice table full of peppery sauces and the world's largest prawns to premiere the film "Art of Indonesia: Tales From the Shadow World" (to be shown on Channel 26 at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 24). J. Carter Brown, gallery director, said the film was an effort to bring to the United States the magnificent Indonesian scenery and architecture to show the origins of the art.

The Chronicler doesn't normally count the National Trust for Historic Preservation as an international group. But its Constitution Ball at the Pension Building celebrated "The U.S. Constitution's Influence Across the Nation and Around the World." Trust Chairman Robert M. Bass presented the first James Madison Constitutional Heritage Award to Hungarian President Arpad Goncz. A group of Hungarian educators and preservationists at the Chronicler's table said the banquet was a feast compared with the present lean pickings at home, but not compared with the old days of the Hungarian-Austro empire. In a similar instance, at the very American evening at the National Museum of American Art celebrating the opening of the Hemphill Folk Art Collection and the 100th anniversary of the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher law firm, the food was all Philippine -- cigar-shaped meat and pastry rolls, spicy chicken and possibly the world's best Peking duck -- cooked and served by the Filipino staff of caterer Becky Hamil.

The International Monetary Fund conference partied all around town, but in an effort of noblesse oblige offered feasts for the eyes open to all. The Associazione Bancaria Italiana and 16 Italian banks sponsored the Italian baroque paintings show at the National Gallery of Art (through Nov. 11). The Banco de Mexico brought to the new Mexican Cultural Institute 800 engravings and lithographs of 19th-century Mexico from its fabled collection. International art types such as Lee and Dorn McGrath and Ann Van Devanter Townsend admired the artistic salsas as well as the glimpse of life in Mexico in the past century.

Le Marie Tranier Gallery opened with a show by Maria Eugenia Bigott, wife of the Venezuelan ambassador. Cocktails were served under the real single-engine airplane suspended from the ceiling -- not a Bigott sculpture but apparently left over from a past tenant -- and the black-tie dinner in the step-down area. Tranier, a French art dealer who has been selling privately in New York, decided to open her first gallery in Washington. Her first show of Bigott's sculptures has left the Venezuelan Embassy residence looking notably empty.

Wild horses couldn't have kept away many of those invited by the Austrian Embassy and the Chrysler Corp. (sort of odd when you think its product replaced horses) to the performance of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna at Capital Centre.

At the Lilla Cabot Perry preview dinner at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Judith Terra revealed that her husband, art collector and former ambassador Daniel Terra, was in France, even as we ate, seeing to the remodeling of the house where Perry lived in Giverny. The Terras are establishing a museum of American art in the small town where Monet's house and garden are the other main attractions. Another French connection -- Chrys Fisher, president of Hermes of Paris, is joining fellow scarf designer Frankie Welch to entertain at a lunch next week at Welch's 1750 Alexandria house.

The Italian Embassy's Villa Firenze, one of Washington's most notable entertaining sites, has been busily promoting its country's products. One night Ridgewells caterers filled friends with Italian food, on another Fendi fashions were shown off to trumpet the arrival of the Fendi Boutique at Fairfax Square.

Not to be outdone, Sutton Place Gourmet (known to its many fanciers as Glutton Place) and Spanish Ambassador Jaime de Ojeda brought in Spanish chefs Karlos Arguinano and Ramon Ramirez for a dinner at the elegant 16th Street embassy to promote the foods of Spain. A six-course dinner of Spanish style fish and duck accompanied by Spanish wines was served in the atrium for 60 people, among them television's Frugal Gourmet. The evening went on past Washington's 10:30 party-leaving time to include an hour-long performance by eight local flamenco dancers.

Not all of the international parties were large and held in public places. Madek Mladek, in between her constant trips to Prague in her efforts to set up a museum of modern art, stopped to give a dinner for Hungarian Ambassador Peter Zwack and Czechoslovak Ambassador Rita Klimova. And Jack and Esther Coopersmith gave one of their international parties on their terrace in honor of Nusrat Bhutto, who stopped here briefly on her way to the U.N. Children's Conference in New York, where she was to receive an award on behalf of her daughter, ousted Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

As the world whirls, so does Washington.