my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?

7.12.2006

Hospital Food

In my life, I've worked in three hospitals and been treated in five ... and the most vivid recollection I have of any of them is bacon.

Why in the world would a medical -- or healthcare -- center, as they like to be known, allow that kind of food to be served? And take a certain obstinate pride in it?

Well, glad you asked. I have a theory.

Hospitals are grim, grim, grim. No matter how much pastel paint they use, or colorfully abstract art they post, or soft lighting they employ, the fact remains that people are there because they're sick or damaged, or they're visiting someone who's sick or damaged, or they actually work with the sick and damaged.

The hours are awful -- shiftwork at its worst. Usually 7-3, 3-11, 11-7 ... the kinds of hours that, no matter which shift you've pulled, you're tired and gray/green-skinned at the end.

With the exception of pink-cheeked, hyper-thin, well-established cardiologists, nobody looks good. They look bad, they feel not-so-hot and they want some comfort, dammit.

Enter the bacon.

A hospital cafeteria -- at least the ones I was familiar with -- specializes in comfort food. Today, there is at least a nod toward healthful eating, with the obligatory salad bar (note the sneeze shield).

But for the most part, heavy carb-laden "American" food is what's served, on demand. Deep-fried, breaded, caramelized saturated fat heaven. Heavy on the beef and pork.

And breakfast is the best. I mean worst. Where the worlds of two shifts collide, the smell of coffee and the fat of bacon seep into your pores whether you're in the cafeteria or taking the elevator up with carts of food for the units ... where the smell is bound to worsen the nausea of the already ill.

But if you're working in that life, used to it, there's nothing that signals normalcy more than that smell. It's the sense of normalcy imparted by this food that's so important. It's linkage to the world where you're not seeing horrible things every time you turn around. It masks the authentically awful hospital smells.

It reminds you what you're immersed in isn't normal.

6 Comments:

Blogger greeneyes said...

This reminds me of a Scrubs episode I saw where Heather Graham was running around the hospital all excited because it was kielbasa day. I generally don't watch that show, but wouldn't you know, it was the one connection I have to the hospital-pork products theme! :-)

3:35 PM

 
Blogger katiedid said...

Can I be a little bit of a smartass?

Because I really feel like the "linkage to the world..." ought to be *sausage*.

;-P

8:10 PM

 
Blogger mireille said...

*grinning* you guys just couldn't help yourselves, could ya? linkage=kielbasa sausage. There. Happy? ♥ xoxo

8:28 PM

 
Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

The many times I've been in the hospital, I've had jello and ice cream and chicken noodle soup.
A plate of bacon sounds pretty good right now.
I love bacon!

8:53 PM

 
Blogger G said...

I shrunk back in horror when I opened your post (no offense) as I thought I was viewing some damaged body organs. Now I realize it was only the food that causes the actual damage. Any time I've been in the hospital as a patient, I've been happiest with jamie dawn's menu and tea with lemon. You really evoked the hospital feel and sounds in my head.

10:01 AM

 
Blogger Bela said...

I believe it's the same in UK NHS hospitals (I've only been treated in a private one so can't compare). It defies reason that patients should be given such bad stuff to eat at the very time when they need to be cared for - in every way. I think Saint Jamie Oliver, who's revolutionized school dinners, is tackling the problem. I really hope he does.

6:43 AM

 

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