We talk a lot about food on this blog. Food we make ourselves, wonderful restaurant food whether it be from a high-end place and a basic roadside diner. We have written about meals friends have served us. We have talked about the sources of the food we cook with, like the Farmers Market, online shops or just out of our own garden. But I don’t think we have ever addressed institutional food. You know, the high school cafeteria, the college food service or the hospital experience.
Since my knee replacement surgery two weeks ago I have been subjected to hospital creations and then the meals at a rehab facility. Whose is better, let’s start at the beginning, the hospital. My first dinner after surgery was predictably unexciting. I was coming off of anesthesia and my meal ticket said ‘soft diet.’ My tray appeared at 5pm with vanilla ice cream, an Ensure shake, a banana, milk, juice, tea and a bowl of cream of wheat. I was hungry but not really in an eating mood. I drank some tea, had some juice and then bravely took a spoonful of Cream of Wheat, bleh! It tasted as bad as it looked. So I cut up the banana and added it to the bowl with two packets of sugar…two more packets of sugar later and it still was pretty bleh. So I ate the ice cream.
Everyday you are in the hospital they give you a little menu sheet where you choose your upcoming meals. For the day after surgery breakfast I stayed away from Cream of Wheat and went for scrambled eggs. Also orange juice and oatmeal.
When I lifted the lid from my plate I thought I was looking at chunks of butter. The eggs, all naked w/o benefit of salt, pepper, onion, cheese or green pepper, didn’t taste bad but they looked fake. They were obviously poured into a pan, then cooked or baked , and then cut into chunks and served. A very weird-looking scramble. I also had oatmeal that morning which was more palatable than the CoW but it also needed sugar and milk, which if you don’t circle on the sheet, you do not receive. This is the same if I had ordered dry cereal.
However after these meals the food at the hospital definitely improved. Turkey and gravy and a roll with green beans was pretty good. Especially the green beans. They were fresh green beans, not canned or frozen, and not cooked to the consistency of soft paste. I was shocked! I gobbled them up and sent my congratulations to the kitchen. Positive reinforcement is a good thing.
Encouraged I chose the roast beef, sweet potatoes, broccoli and tossed salad for my next evening meal. Oh, they finally took me off “soft diet”. Yes, I had done my bodily duty and my system was functioning again.Looks pretty normal, right? Well except for the strange rectangles the meat was cut into. From the picture, my husband thought I had meatloaf but it was indeed roast beef. broccoli was good, the sweets weren’t bad but look at that tossed salad? Spring mix, tomatoes, even a cucumber slice! The kitchen was scoring big points with me. Oh, keep that salad in mind, it is going to look even better when I get to my next culinary adventure.
To top it off that’s chocolate pudding with whipped cream for dessert. I was starting to like hospital food more and more. However, all good things must come to an end. Friday, September 23, I was transferred to the Rehab Facility. First meal of the evening, a pizza burger.