TO DO...

Today: "The Social Significance of Food in Mecca," lecture on the cultural background of Meccan cuisine, with tips on preparation and food samples, 5:30 p.m., Boardman Room, The Middle East Institute, 1761 N St. NW, $5. Call 202-785-0196 for information.

Oct. 30: book signing by author and humorist Calvin Trillin of his new book "Enough's Enough," 7-8:30 p.m., Kitchen Bazaar, 4401 Connecticut Ave. NW. Reservations required; $3 reservation fee applicable towards the cost of the book. Call 202-244-1550 for information.

Nov. 8: Four decades of rare vintages from the cellars of Domaine Ott in Provence and Prosper Maufoux will be tasted with the owners with a special menu de' gustation at La Colline, 7:30 p.m., $85. Reservations may be made through Connaissance & Cie at (212) 472-5772 or (212) 410- 5582.

CUPCAKES ARE A GIVEN at most Halloween parties. This year, Nestle' Toll House Kitchen suggests adding a little extra good fortune to them: Write a number of fortunes on a small slip of paper, such as "Good Things May Be Coming Your Way," "A Big Trip Is in Store," and, of course, "You Will Meet a Tall, Dark, Handsome Stranger."

Seal these fortunes in small pieces of foil and drop them into paper-lined muffin trays. Then pour in the batter and bake according to directions.

That's the easy part; the hard part is making sure the fortunes get to the right people.

THE PORK INDUSTRY is in hog heaven. Following in the footsteps of the egg and beef industries, which have helped fund studies showing that their products are really more healthful than we all previously thought, the National Pork Producers Council last week announced findings of a study showing that pigs have slimmed down -- both inside and out.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison study found that eight cuts trimmed of all fat averaged 31 percent lower in fat, 17 percent lower in calories and 10 percent lower in cholesterol than values reported in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 1983 nutrient handbook. The differences were attributed to improvements in breeding and feeding. In addition, retailers have trimmed the outside rim of fat on fresh pork cuts from 1/4 inch to an average 1/8 inch.

Still, the findings do not suggest that all cuts of pork are lean. Sausages, bacon and ribs still pack a high-fat wallop. The leanest cut is pork tenderloin, and other cuts that include the word "loin" are also good choices.

Now we're waiting for new nutrition data from the cheesecake lobby.

YOUR SALAD DAYS perhaps could be recouped if you just changed your salad dressing. That's because the largest unrecognized source of fat in women's diets is the dressing they use on salads, said Mary Abbott Hess, president-elect of the American Dietetic Association.

If women who eat salads every day substituted low-calorie dressing for the regular kind, Hess said, they could lose 12 1/2 pounds in a year.

COOKS WHO LONG to be published can get a start by submitting recipes to the Greater Darnestown Civic Association for "It's A Darne Good Cookbook."

Residents of western and upper Montgomery County and communities bordering the Potomac River are invited to participate, with profits from the book to benefit GDCA activities, local PTAs and the Darnestown Historical Society.

The deadline for submission is Oct. 31; for information, call Carole DeMinco at 301-963-2518.



Here's an entree that takes about 10 minutes to prepare and microwave. In place of the swordfish you may use any large filet or fish steak. The recipe was created in a 700-watt microwave. If yours has less wattage, increase the cooking time slightly.

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 pound swordfish steak, about 3/4-inch thick

2 tablespoons dry white wine or defatted chicken stock

In a small bowl combine the oil, garlic and fennel seeds. Cover tightly with vented plastic wrap and microwave on full power until fragrant, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Keep the garlic mixture handy.

Cut away and discard any dark patches on the fish. Then set it in a 9-inch glass pie dish and sprinkle on the wine. Cover with vented plastic wrap and microwave on full power until cooked through, about 4 1/2 minutes, flipping midway.

Meanwhile, scoop the garlic mixture into a mortar and crush into a paste. When the fish is ready, immediately rub the paste all over it. Let stand for about four minutes, to perfume the fish before serving. You can also refrigerate the perfumed fish and serve it chilled.

Per serving: 215 calories, 29 gm protein, .9 gm carbohydrates, 9 gm fat, 2 gm saturated fat, 57 mg cholesterol, 136 mg sodium. -- Judith Benn Hurley