Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce

Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce

I had to make a few adaptations because, living in the Philippines, not all the ingredients were readily and easily available, and I can’t afford to take a cab around from store to store hunting them up.  So instead of panko bread crumbs, I used Fita crackers (like an off-brand of Ritz, but less oily) and crushed them.  I don’t have olive oil at home, I use palm or coconut oil, so that’s what I used. My Italian spices are mix and match and acquired at great inconvenience so I did not have them all.  Instead of parsley I dried and minced celery leaves, and they were quite tasty. I don’t have an oven except my little toaster oven, and it only cooks two pork chops at a time, so I cooked them in an electric skillet.

These are good, but not AMAZING.  They are pretty easy to make, so that was nice.  However, my husband was ravenously enthusiastic and I think that part of the reason they appealed to us so much is just that they appeal to American tastebuds.  There is just something about the flavours of your  motherland that hit the spot like nothing else, that fill in an empty space in your being that you did not even know existed, even if you think you’re not that attached to your home-country’s cuisine- or at least, that is my experience.    Absence, as they say, makes the heart grow fonder, because pork chops have never been one of my favourites, although they have always been one of his.

We love Asian food and we eat it five  to seven times a week in one form or another, but we are getting to the place where we don’t really care if we never have curry or adobo again, and that’s kind of a sad place to be. We had burritos twice in the last 9 days or so, plus cheese tortillas three or four times- and they are not cheap here. We found tortillas at a grocery store and bought five packages (for 2 of us!  Cherub cannot eat them).  Fortunately they freeze well.   I eat avocado toast for breakfast 3 times a week because the avocados are cheap right now, and we stock up on whole wheat bread when we find it.

I made these as an experiment a couple weeks ago, and the HM ate the planned leftovers the same night, and finished off the last one for lunch even though the school now provides him with free lunches. He requested I make them again soon, and even willingly went to the grocery store we like the least of the 3 in our area to get some of the ingredients. That grocery store is upscale, high-end, and most likely to have any American style ingredients of the 3 we frequent. Of the 3 we frequent it is also the furthest away, the most crowded, the largest and busiest and most overwhelming.  I always spend too much money there because I am so overwhelmed I quit thinking.  And I spend the most money, but am most likely to come home without something I really needed because it’s just too much for me to handle rationally.

So, anyway.  He did the grocery shopping.  The particular special ingredients needed for this recipe which were most likely found at G-mall were dijon mustard and dried oregano, and possibly lemons.  The other stores sometimes have them and sometimes don’t.  As it turned out, Gaisano Mall did not have the dijon mustard either, so when he texted me to say he asked 3 people for help and still could only find regular and honey mustard, I looked up how to make dijon at home and found it was surprisingly simple, provided you have white wine.  It only takes a spoonful or so, but I texted him back to bring home the honey mustard and buy some white wine, “and also, why are you asking anybody for help finding the mustard? This is the Philippines.”  This was prophetic, but I was playing Cassandra.

That white wine turned out to be complicated as well- they have a large aisle of alcohol but he saw nothing called white wine.  He asked for help and they showed him the red wine.  This will only confuse or surprise you if you have never lived in a similar culture.  A few months ago we had a taxi driver take us to the wrong Korean restaurant not once, but *twice*, as in, he left the parking lot and just kind of did a circle back in to the back end of the driveway to the *same* restaurant we had just told him was not where we were going.  The problem for him was he did not know where the restaurant we wanted to go to was located, but this was a Korean restaurant and we said we were going to a Korean restaurant, so this should do.  The problem for us was that we didn’t want to go to just any Korean restaurant, we wanted to go to the one where we were meeting our friends.  It took us 15 minutes to convince the driver we were not getting out and eating at this other restaurant but wanted to go further up the road to the one we’d named.  Probably we should have gotten out and taken another cab, but anyway.  I digress, although not really.  It’s the same story, different nouns.

So my husband explained again he wanted white wine (he even knows the Visaya word for white), and so the sales clerk showed him a bottle of a clear liquor and insisted it was white wine and could be used in any recipe that called for white wine for cooking, so he bought it and brought it home.

The bottle contains not white wine, but triple sec.   It’s an orange flavoured liquor made from bitter orange peels.  I do not even know what to do with this.

This experience pretty much entirely encapsulates what it is like to live in the Philippines and ask somebody a question to which they do not know the answer (or worse, the actual answer is ‘no, we don’t have that.’), especially if it entails their job.


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