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.