Pork Chops with Maple Syrup and Mustard; the Hostess Gift

I could never find real (or fake) maple syrup in Andorra or Ireland.

But I found it in France: Canadian Maple Syrup.

I didn’t puzzle over it too much; I was just happy with my good fortune.

Then, one year at a Christmas market, I saw a big pavilion featuring the foods and products of Quebec.

Sometimes I am amazed at my own lack of perception…..

If you don’t have maple syrup you can use honey, or even brown sugar. 

It just won’t be the same.

Pork Chops with Maple Syrup and Mustard 

Total time: 30 minutes

 Ingredients:

  • 2 – 4 pork pork chops, depending on size, 12oz (350gr) total weight 

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) beef stock
  • 1/4 cup (2oz, 60ml) white wine
  • 1 tbs maple syrup (or honey)

  • 1 tbs whole grained mustard  (or Dijon-style mustard)

  • 2 tbs dried sage
  • 2 tsp cornstarch (corn flour, maizena) dissolved in 1 tbs water

Pork Chops with Maple Syrup and Mustard

 Instructions:

  • In medium nonstick skillet heat oil over medium heat. 
  • Add pork chops and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes each. 
  • Add beef stock, wine, maple syrup, mustard and sage. 
  • Cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. 
  • Uncover and remove chops to small platter.  Cover to keep warm. 
  • Increase heat under skillet.  Dissolve cornstarch in water and stir into simmering sauce. 
  • Spoon some sauce over chops and serve, remaining sauce on the side.

Speaking of perceptions…

We had an interesting conversation in my French class the other day regarding ‘Hostess Gifts’.

First, let me give you my opinion on hostess gifts. For a typical dinner party there are three choices for hostess gifts: 

  1. Wine: This is a gift.  One should not expect it to be served either with, before or after the meal.
  2. Chocolates or other fancy sweets: This is also a gift. One should not expect to have them served (so one can taste them) with coffee.
  3. Flowers or plants: Again, a gift.  Do not expect the flowers to replace whatever centerpiece is already gracing the dinner table.

One has to remember, always, that the hosts have carefully planned a dinner party for your enjoyment. They have chosen wines to compliment the food that has been carefully selected and prepared. The table has been set and arranged for your pleasure. It is presumptive on the part of the guests to expect that to be disrupted. (minor rant, there…)

Of course, if one knows the hosts very, very well there are many more options – and it can be more fun. 

I had a friend bring me a small flat of primroses for my garden.

I gave a friend a collection of fancy wine corks.

But back to the conversation in my French class….

The class consisted of Brits, our French teacher and me, the American.

When the question was asked, I answerd with the standard three gifts.

All of the Brits were horrified!

They said one should never, never take a bottle of wine to a French host. (We were only talking about French dinners / dining) They said it would be extremely insulting, implying that your hosts were incapable of selecting appropriate wine for the dinner.

But it’s a gift! I argued.  It’s not meant to be opened.

They continued to be horrified and give me dire warnings of being accused of bad behavior.

I finally turned to our teacher (who is French, of course) and asked her what, in her opinion, the traditional hostess gifts are.

Flowers.  Chocolates.  And wine.

Case closed.

She went on to say that dessert was also traditional among friends…. With the caveat being that one must ask the hostess if she would like to have a dessert, and, if the answer is yes, to ask how many people it needs to serve.

IMHO, if you choose this option, you should either be an extremely accomplished baker or be prepared to spend serious money at the local patisserie.  French desserts are in a class of their own.

Any opinions on any of this?

Any opinions from my fellow expats? 

Oh, yes….. You don’t get to take your gift back home with you, either.

6 thoughts on “Pork Chops with Maple Syrup and Mustard; the Hostess Gift”

  1. I would have given one of the three you mentioned, or offered to bring something to the meal (hostess’s choice) if dining with good friends. However, sometimes, if I know something about a particular person, I can deviate from that. For example, my friend Sunny was having a dinner party later in the week and I had found a particularly delicious marinated meat. I brought it to her (vacuum sealed) so she could serve it at the dinner party or freeze it for later if she decided to serve something else. She actually hugged it and said, “Now, that’s a love gift!”

  2. Katie I’m with Zoomie…always bring wine, or contribute to the meal…or flowers at the very least. I also, ask if they would like their wine served with the dinner meal – so I give them the option. I would never never go home with a gift I have given!
    You just can’t beat real Canadian Maple Syrup…so scrumptious.

  3. Go home with a gift we’ve brought?! Never. Do people really do that?
    We usually bring wine. We don’t expect to drink it but don’t mind if our hosts open it. We have also been known to bring bread – and again, we don’t expect to eat it and always give instructions for how to rejuvenate it the next day.
    As for maple syrup, here we are in the land of maple syrup (I know people are harvesting it right now) and we rarely buy it. We really should though. I was recently served the most brilliant maple walnut scones. And now there are your pork chops too.

  4. Val, how fun – and sweet….
    manningroad, I surely never do!
    Zoomie, it’s fun when we can find the right thing for a friend, isn’t it!
    Ina, I love maple syrup – now I want pancakes!
    Elizabeth, you can bring me bread any day. We can make French toast and have maple syrup on it!

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