Sira-sira store: Cuisine in white-A A +A
By Ober Khok
Friday, June 29, 2012
EVEN if you are hungry, at this “restaurant” you will not find your appetite.
“The worst place to have a meal is in a hospital,” which is a statement I’m sure you have often heard.
I used to dismiss the statement as plain griping for being sick (the patient) and simply feeling sick of the food and being deprived of “cholesterolicious” and “carbolicious” food (the watcher).
Although hospitals symbolize needles, blood sampling and lack of sleep, these wonderful institutions for physical repair have nothing at heart but the community’s well-being. Those dedicated doctors, nurses, orderlies, information clerks—the whole staff—deserve a round of cheerful applause.
The hospital is a living organism that depends on the cooperation among health care workers, the health insurance workers, the patient and the family. People have to look at hospitals from the inside. It’s a clockwork of function and nurture that needs the oil of gratitude, even for hospitals that have landed in newspapers because of one or two controversies or bad eggs in the basket.
Talking about eggs brings up the situation of hospital cuisine. It can’t be helped.
My first cousin Pattie was recently hospitalized because of her complaints from head to foot. She had to go through a series of tests that needed a few days of hospital stay and observation. Her daughter Gwennie kept her mom company and did errands.
On the second day, Gwennie asked me why hospital food lacked sex appeal and taste.
“The hospital’s dietician can’t plan for individuals and the cook can’t make too many food items, so the taste has to suit all sorts of patients with different needs,” I told her.
Since the hospital’s kitchen does not cater to takeout orders or popular selections, food served to patients needs to be homogenous: low sodium, high fiber, plain and cheap.
“But can’t they at least have a menu or some spark of imagination in the way the food is cooked and presented?” Gwennie asked.
Doesn’t she know a hospital is not a hotel with a restaurant? It’s a place where people try to get healed. If they hate the food, they can buy it outside.
Perhaps it would be revolutionary if a hospital did create a menu with descriptions under each entry. For example, Fish Confetti (fried tilapia with ginger-soy sauce, sliced scallions and garlic), Ribbon Soup (chicken- or beef-based soup with sotanghon, shredded meat, sliced button mushroom or beaten egg and scallions) and Tofu Delight (fried tofu in ginger, soy sauce, black beans and sliced red onions).
The hospital doesn’t have to hire a chef since the dietician is a trained professional who knows the interaction of spices, condiments, vegetables and various meats. If the hospital does want the dietician to get further training in the culinary arts, it can sponsor the education of the person.
It would be a wonderful day when we see a hospital room that boasts of computers, Internet capability, cable channels and a menu that caters to major religions, diet needs and simply patient fancy.
From soups to salads, fish and meat dishes, vegetables, breakfast and snacks, the menu would guide the sick person’s family on how to increase the comfort of the confined person, as well as give them choices with the food. Yes, an extra tray can be added to “room service” for a minimal fee or none at all.
On the first day of confinement, all patients get the food of the day. Then the family can go over the menu to plan out the next day’s meal. For sure this element of choice will boost the morale of everybody involved. And there will be no food wastage. What a tribute to conservation!
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 30, 2012.