When my son was born, I spent three days and nights in the hospital with my wife. Supposedly, I had the “easy part” since I was there lending support as she had to endure twenty hours of labor. But neither of us slept – or ate – much during those harrowing hours. And then our baby boy was born and the euphoria began to wear off, new mommy and daddy looked at each other and wondered, “When do we eat?”
Hospitals have come a long way in terms of living up to their image of hospitality (forgive the pun). The maternity ward at the hospital where we delivered had its own common area kitchen containing freshly brewed coffee and a refrigerator stocked with cold drinks. Also, I was quite pleased that the hospital offered me one complimentary meal a day as a “guest” of the patient. One meal in particular was the hospital’s congratulatory dinner offered to the new parents and complete with a menu of choices, with gussied up culinary bon mots as “julienned carrots” and “hand whipped potatoes.” The admirable goal of the hospital was to provide a dining experience somewhat resembling a fine dining, special occasion meal. Yes, when it comes to hospital food, “fine dining” is a very generous term. However, in all candor, after having slept 4 of only 48 hours, I was gleeful eating anything even passing for nourishment.
Notably, the hospital’s dinners were better than their generic breakfasts and cafeteria style lunches. I would like to think that the kitchen manager helming the stove in the evenings may have been a recent graduate of the Cordon Bleu. Maybe? Perhaps? Take for instance my “guest dinner” below. The spinach and ricotta cheese raviolis were not bad! The side of broccoli – okay a bit over-steamed, but I didn’t mind eating something I knew was going to help cure my energy deficit amassed from the past couple of days.
I was so hungry that I really could have eaten anything. I couldn’t even wait a few seconds to take a photo of the meal, as you can see by the bite mark on the bread. The salad was surprisingly fresh, although the dressing was one of those corn syrupy packaged pouches of “Italian” ooze. The dessert, which was a chocolate mousse cake tasted like chocolate – and that was good enough for me.
Not pictured was my chosen drink option for the night – Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider (product slogan: “Drink Your Apple A Day”). Aside from water and juice, the drinks were limited to sparkling fare, like club soda or non-caffeine soft drinks. However, the hospital also had its own “specialty” drink which I actually would recommend as a good accompaniment to hospital food. They made cranberry spritzers on demand for my wife, essentially cranberry juice and club soda. Nicely refreshing and hydrating! And maybe that was the point?