HOW do you know if it's American? Here are the trends that are beginning to define The American Cookery:

* Exhibition kitchens, where the chef is the show.

* Markets combined with eating places, from Baltimore's Harborplace to Santa Monica's Charmer's Market.

* Menus that combine old and new, foreign and local.

* Old-fashioned desserts such as pecan pie, bread pudding, devil's food cake, though often updated or with some added novelty.

* Home-smoked meats; even better, in the case of K-Paul's in New Orleans, double smoked (first cold smoked, then hot smoked).

* Double sauces, either side by side or one swirled into the other; in New Orleans, the two sauces are one on top of the other.

* Personal service, management by a family or a group of friends.

* Barbecuing, grilling, more barbecuing.

* Willingness--or drive--to try anything; invention is the goal.

* Bold amateurism.

* Everything homemade, from the butter to the chocolate truffles.

* Sampler dishes: 3 soups, four kinds of oysters, multicourse tasting dinners, dessert assortments.

* Sauces on desserts--or under them.

* Raw foods: sashimi, seviche, carpaccio, salmon tartare.

* Crusty vegetables, especially potato pancakes modernized with zucchini or topped with goat cheese, caviar.

* Youth--in the staff, in the vegetables, in the wine.

* Carryout food--elaborate restaurant food to eat at home.