"ART WHAT THOU EAT: Images of Food in American Art," an exhibit at the New York Historical Society through March 22, includes 80 paintings and sculptures that trace changes in eating habits through the last century and this.

Food depicted includes red and inviting but blemished and real apples -- painted in 1890 by Levi Wells Prentice -- tumbling out of a wooden basket onto the grass as well as bright yellow, phony and cartoonish "Bananas and Grapefruit" painted in 1972 by Roy Lichtenstein.

The curators hope viewer will see not just the art in these and other pieces, but also what the works say about our history and attitudes. In other words, food for thought.

TO DO...

Feb. 4: Chefs For Charity dinner, 7 p.m., Loews L'Enfant Plaza Hotel, honoring Washington Post restaurant critic Phyllis Richman, dishes prepared by area chefs, sponsored by the World Capital Chefs Society, benefits The Ronald McDonald House and the Nina Hyde Center for Breast Cancer Research, send $45 (check or money order) to WCCS Dinner Tickets, 4733 Bethesda Ave., Suite 300, Bethesda, Md. 20814. For information call 202-546-6768 (Tortilla Coast restaurant).


Serve this spicy winter dish with steamed rice or slices of warm pita bread.

2 tablespoons corn oil

1 large onion, sliced

2 pounds lamb shoulder, trimmed and cubed

2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced

2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, finely minced

1/2 green chili, seeded and finely minced

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

14-ounce can tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 cup yellow split peas

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)

2 tablespoons lime juice

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat and fry the onions until golden brown. Add the lamb and season with salt. Saute' the lamb for about 2 minutes and add the garlic, ginger and chili.

Add the coriander, cumin, curry powder, turmeric and cayenne. Mix well and continue to saute' for a few more minutes. Add the tomatoes and their liquid, split peas and 1 cup of warm water to the mixture, stir well and bring to a simmer.

Cover the pan and cook at a low simmer for 40 minutes, or until the lamb is tender and the split peas are soft. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice and serve hot.

Per serving: 426 calories, 45 gm protein, 15 gm carbohydrates, 20 gm fat, 9 gm saturated fat, 158 mg cholesterol, 930 mg sodium. -- Quentine Acharya

CAN'T GET THE KIDS to eat their salad? Why not tell them you're serving PB&J Salad? This peanut butter dressing overcomes vegetable aversion and can also used as a dip for celery and carrot sticks and apple or pineapple slices.

PEANUTTY DRESSING (Makes about 1 cup)

1 cup peanut butter, smooth or crunchy

4 tablespoons apple or grape juice

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon raisins, chopped

Combine the peanut butter with apple or grape juice, lemon juice and chopped raisins. Thin with more juice if necessary. Pour on salad -- which could include turkey and cheese -- and top with additional raisins, peanuts or grapes.

The same recipe can be altered for adult taste. Add a little lime juice, soy sauce, chopped garlic and red pepper flakes and use as a sauce for chicken salad, grilled seafood or Chinese noodles.

Per tablespoon: 75 calories, 3 gm protein, 3 gm carbohydrates, 6 gm fat, 1 gm saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 57 mg sodium.

IT'S HARD ENOUGH to get kids to make nutritious food choices. But now, Del Monte Foods may be making things even more difficult by supplying positive reinforcement to vegetable haters.

The company recently announced that it will be starting an ad campaign next month for its Vegetable Classics that focuses on the message that kids don't like vegetables and won't like these. (Vegetable Classics are a line of shelf-stable microwaveable side dishes.) According to Advertising Age, Del Monte has targeted the campaign to convenience-oriented adults; the two siblings featured in the ad warn their peers that parents will be feeding them more vegetables because the company has made them easier to cook.

Meanwhile, last week, Public Voice for Food and Health Policy sponsored a two-day conference in Washington on children and nutrition. Del Monte wasn't on the participant list.

ARE FLAVORED PRETZELS in our near future? Snack World, the monthly magazine of the snack food industry, thinks not. Part of industry's hesitancy to introduce flavored pretzels is a fear that consumers just aren't ready for them, reports an article in the publication's January issue.

In fact, while pretzels have been around longer than any snack food (even potato chips!), they lag far behind in the seasoning department, the article states. One major obstacle is the process used to make pretzels; since they are baked at high temperatures for a relatively long period, added flavors can literally be "baked out" of them.

While the article quotes Bill Mann, chairman of Pretzels, Inc., of Bluffton, Ind., as saying "it bothers me that pretzels don't come in more flavors," it sure doesn't bother us. We like pretzels just the way they are. No barbecue, no onion, no mesquite, no sour cream, no ranch-style, no cheddar cheese ...