I think I can see why hospital food gets the reputation that it does.
While I’m sure the cooks down in the kitchen are doing their absolute best to prepare meals that are healthy and nourishing to the best of their ability, the food—or at least what I was given—was oftentimes so inedible that even the nurses would turn their well-coiffed noses up at it as they took the remains away.
Now, to be fair, I had only started eating solid foods the last week of my stay at OU Medical Center, 679 Stanton L. Young Blvd. I was on the dysphasia diet, which meant the food served was "extra soft" and my liquids were of a “nectar thick” consistency. Ever tried drinking “nectar thick” iced tea?
It’s a bad as it sounds, hoss.
The meal I chose to focus on was probably the least appealing of the week’s worth of Italian meatballs and baked chicken; that was the day where, for dinner, I was given a plate featuring baked tilapia, a spot of mashed potatoes, green beans (always those damn green beans!) and I think some sort of fruit-sauce, paired nicely with a room-warm “nectar thick” iced tea in a small disposable package:
Filling my fully-sanitized room with a wholly exotic seafood smell as soon as I took the cover off the plate, the tilapia—easily the most affordable of all fishes, as I remembered from my Buy for Less excursions—was cooked thoroughly, with one side being desperately crispy and the other side…not. There was no salt, no pepper, no lemon, and no malt vinegar—just the slight return of some sort of tangy flavor from the singular package of Heinz tartar sauce that covered about three or four bites, if that.
The potatoes were lower quality as well, just peeled, boiled and mashed and served them on a plate with no, once again, salt or pepper, butter or even some generic I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter; they were definitely extra soft and most definitely extra bland. I haven’t had mashed potatoes since but the green beans—the one consistency with almost every meal—were even worse, like small shoots of tasteless rubber, choking down what I could in an effort not to be rude.
I’m pretty sure I skipped my fruit-sauce—I was pushing my tray away at this point—saving my “nectar thick” iced tea for my pills that were surely coming soon. If you can avoid it, never have nectar anything if you can. There were admittedly a few meals where all I had to drink was my then tilapia-tinted saliva, as I wasn’t even allowed to drink a nice tall glass of even ice water at that point.
Water is not “nectar thick,” see?
Now, as I prefaced earlier, this was the dysphasia plate that I was dining on. Maybe all those other meals on all those other trays that passed by me when I went out for a little physical therapy, taunting and teasing me, had something that was the slightest bit more flavorful, but I’ll never know. Besides, a week later I was in rehab at Valir Rehabilitation where the food was better.