Saturday, February 5, 2011

Care for a glass of Chardonnay with your Tapioca?

A hospital in Indiana is reportedly thinking along these lines, probably in response to grumblings from patients about lousy meals they're getting there.

It's not a bad idea, of course, but perhaps hospital dieticians could make a few adjustments to the food before getting their patients inebriated, which, they undoubtedly hope, will reduce  the number of complaints.

My husband was in hospital for a week last month, and with each meal delivery, whether breakfast, lunch or dinner, we were amazed at how reflective the food was of the country's culinary tastes circa 1955. 

Desserts included, yes, watery tapioca pudding; syrupy fruit salad cups, pears in syrup, vanilla pudding and strawberry ice cream in little dixie cups. 

Main courses of meatloaf, stew or chicken were accompanied by white rice or instant mashed potatoes (though one night they came flecked with brown things which may have been potato skins). Lunchtime sandwiches were laden with some indistinguishable spread we assumed was either tuna, salmon or liverwurst. Carrots and green beans were remarkably (and properly) crisp, but utterly tasteless. With his eyes closed, my husband would have absolutely no idea what he was eating. The good news is that white bread has now been replaced by brown (though no fiber sightings were reported).

I know hospitals try to make foods simple, cheap and easily digestible. Fair enough. It's a tall order to do that and make them interesting, but really, improvements could be made, I'm certain. 

My hunch is this:  a consortium of hosptals went to Costco (or its equivalent), in 1962, made an enormous cost-saving bulk order of foods, put them in storage, and are still working their way through them until it's time to go shopping again. What other reason could there be for serving such processed, sugary, and I would think, unwholesome Anglo-only foods. Nostalgia?


  1. What irks me even more is that given the fact that they are supposed to be health conscious they make the most elementary mistakes, like constantly serving fruit juice to diabetics.

  2. It is truly amazing how unchanged hospital food really is..Your descriptions is perfect and sadly, so accurate. No where else in the known universe do people still eat this kind of food. And when they did, long ago, it was tasteless, depressing, and unhealthy then too! And to think that they serve it to people who have no choice, who need to feel cheerful to get better, and who also need to be as healthy as possible.

    The mind boggles!

  3. This is why most of us sign up for delivery from Pusiteri's when we go into the hospital. We want to LIVE. Penny in Florida

  4. If "they" can feed 1000 people a fancy meal at once at one of those fancy, $500 a plate dinners, they should be able to feed something a little less fancy, a little more nutritious to a hospital-full. And I do believe that the government is paying something fairly similar for hospital meals. But here's the thing. Would your husband rather have a tuna/salmon/liverwurst sandwich on beige bread or a rubber chicken?