Regional Foods

American regional cuisine is on the menu of the Smithsonian Institution's upcoming eight-session series of food lectures and receptions, kicking off Jan. 25 with a "Flavorful Overview," by Raymond Sokolov, arts and leisure editor for The Wall Street Journal.

Among the topics to be discussed in future sessions: Native American Roots with Rayna Green, director of the American Indian Program of the National Museum of American History (Feb. 1); New England Heritage, with local food writer Joan Nathan (Feb. 8); Foods of the South with Nathalie Dupree, author of "New Southern Cooking" and "Cooking of the South" (Feb. 22); Southwestern Cuisine, featuring chef Mark Miller of Santa Fe's Coyote Cafe (Feb. 29); Critics and Food Writers in American Cuisine, moderated by Phyllis C. Richman, executive food editor and restaurant critic of The Washington Post, with panel members Judith Jones, senior editor at Knopf publishers, food writer John Mariani, and Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (March 7); California Nouvelle Cuisine, with Ruth Reichl, Los Angeles Times restaurant editor (March 14); and The Great Urban Regions, featuring Nancy Harmon Jenkins, editor of the journal Gastronomy (March 21).

Cost of the series of 1 1/2-hour classes, which all begin at 6 p.m., is $80 for members of the Smithsonian's Resident Associate Program and $100 for nonmembers. For registration and location information, call 357-3030.

Imaginative Food

Lots of delis sell 6-foot-long party subs. Al and Ellen Shuster of Norbeck Deli in Rockville go a few steps further, fashioning from dough elaborate, outsized sandwiches in the shapes of champagne bottles (for anniversaries), baby carriages (for showers), footballs (for half-time munching) and business logos, as well as candy canes, trees and Santas for Christmas. The size and shape, says Ellen, is "limited only by the imagination." The stuffings, too, range from the traditional cheeses and deli meats to vegetarian and kosher fillings.

Prices for the custom-made sandwiches start at $45 (enough for 15), and vary depending upon the design. Three days' advance notice is requested on orders (MasterCard and Visa are accepted). Delivery in the metropolitan area ranges from $8 to $25.

Norbeck Deli is located in the Rock Creek Village Shopping Center, 5514 Norbeck Rd., Rt. 28, at Bauer Drive. For additional information, call 460-1400.