WASHINGTON has its subway, but it is not yet a subway city. Already downW town stations sell apples for our lunch and newspapers for our leisure. A few steps away is a hot dog. Or an umbrella ready to be bought for an unexpected shower. But we look forward some day to welcome-homes with fresh vegetables to be bought for our dinner, bunches of flowers for our table. We would like a loaf of crusty bread at each homebound exit. A bunch of beets, a head of cauliflower, a jug of cider would spur us to consider dinner an opportunity rather than a chore. That would be a start. Some day a leek tart or a tray of farm-fresh eggs, perhaps a just-roasted chicken -- every day some things the same and something new from vendors whose business is our dinner. We dream of the time when, just as we wouldn't leave for work without our briefcase, we wouldn't leave for home without our string bag.
In the meantime, we introduce a new Sunday series to deal with life as it is: menus that let you take advantage of the supermarket express lane.
We have become a people who travel by our stomachs, with restaurant guides as our road maps. Now we can travel by stomach on television, as "The World of Cooking" debuts next Sunday (Channel 26 at 11 a.m. and Channel 32 at 6 p.m.; and Saturdays on Channel 22 at 4 p.m.). These are locally produced cooking travelogues by Marilyn and Hal Weiner of Screenscope Inc., filmed in kitchens around the world. Each half-hour program will focus on a different country, the first following a Venetian chef through markets and his restaurant kitchen, the second zooming through the Alps with a French chef on his way to Grenoble's market, then following his trout through its almond paste stuffing and cooking. Third will have us currying India's favorites, meatballs and chicken and potatoes with cauliflower. What comes through in this 11-part series is the flavor of the country, the personality of the chef and a close-up look at professional techniques from various parts of the world. What comes after is a packet of recipes available by mail.
An item from the melting pot: We admire the ecumenical spirit of Sutton Place Gourmet's Virginia baked ham, glazed with Vermont maple syrup and Jamaican brown sugar. Our only question is whether to serve it with mustard from Dijon or Dusseldorf.
While we remain uncertain about what will be in school lunches in the future, at least in Montgomery County we know more about what is in them right now. Starting this month, the menus for school lunches will follow the lead of Fairfax in designating which foods contain artificial color, artificial flavor, BHA/BHT and MSG. Thanks to the Committee for Additive-free School Foods and its 3,000-signature petition.
Champagne sauce -- why? We have always wondered at using a wine that is more expensive for its being bubbly in sauce that dissipates its bubbles. So we asked Jean-Pierre Weydert of Heidsieck Monopole champagne why it is done. He agreed that using champagne in cooking is silly, only an affectation, since a still white wine would produce the same effect. Even so, the Champagne News and Information Bureau is publicizing the cooking possibilities of champagne with a special recipe created by chef Ge'rard Boyer from Reims. The recipe calls for a half-cup of champagne. And, as the chef put it, "the home cook has almost a full bottle left over for sipping as an aperitif or during the meal." Let's hope he gets it to the table quickly so that the bubbles in the bottle don't dissipate as well. We agree with Weydert: Let them drink champagne, but let them eat still wine.
When we think of foreign groceries, we usually have in mind Litteri or the French Market or the German Delicatessen. But the USDA has made a point to remind us that we should also be thinking of A&P, which is half-owned by a West German firm. And Grand Union, which has British owners. Furthermore, when we think of foreign foods, we might think of Keebler's, Libby's, Peter Paul, Wishbone, Seagram, Good Humor and Tetley, all foreign-owned.
That makes them about as American as Amaretto cookies, which for the first time are being made outside Italy. Those crunchy little luxury sweets will now be imported all the way from Rockland County, N.Y.