If you land in the hospital, you're already down on your luck. But if you thought a broken leg or a case of the bubonic plague was bad, wait until you get a load of the food at Ottawa Hospital, where the scrambled eggs are best described as a "yellow puck of sadness."
No one healing up in the infirmary expects Michelin-starred fare, but you would hope to be presented with a meal that's at least edible. Unfortunately, one patient advocate described the food at the Ottawa Hospital and its affiliate network hospitals as "appalling." Now, after eating the hospital food for a week, the hospital's administrators agree that it's time for a change.
According to a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation report, former Ottawa Hospital patient Gillian Wallace had had it with bland lifeless hospital staples like Salisbury steak, "which comes with a pool of brown liquid, technically called gravy" and the infamous egg puck that, she says, "tastes somewhere between Styrofoam and cardboard—not that I've tasted either of those, but that's my imagination." Wallace e-mailed the hospital's CEO to petition for improved food throughout the Ottawa Hospital network, and in her email, she challenged the hospital's top brass to try eating hospital grub for a week.
The hospital got back to Wallace, and told her that they had already tried that—thanks!—and they were working on implementing changes to the menu. Among those changes are "fresh" sandwiches, quinoa (nothing says "spicing it up" like quinoa) and "ethnic" food. Unsurprisingly, Wallace is skeptical of the proposed plans.
You'll find bad hospital food around the globe, but according to Wallace, even some of the staff at Ottawa Hospital agreed that the food was particularly bad. Wallace told the Ottawa Citizen that after surgery, her doctor took a look at her plate and told her, "Don't eat that shit," advising her to instead ask her husband to get her food.
The Ottawa Citizen also ran an opinion piece with the title, "Hospital food should heal, not make you sicker," which argued that hospitals should serve food that both nourishes patients and raises their spirits. It's a sentiment worth rallying around—Wallace described Ottawa Hospital's food as "neither nutritious nor tasty"—and its enemies are inedible yellow pucks of sadness.
There are a lot of reasons hospital food sucks so bad. For one, in some hospitals the people who prepare your food are strictly forbidden from-taste testing your food, so they're shooting from the hip when it comes to taste. Also, many dishes served in hospitals have to be low in fat and sugar-free—you know, healthy. But hospital food may be changing thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which reimburses hospitals at rates that depend on patient satisfaction and readmission rates. Some hospitals are working to find how they can keep people happy with wholesome food that isn't totally gross, so menu changes may be on the horizon.
Unfortunately, we don't all live in Thailand, where the hospital food is apparently as good as the snacks that are hawked on the street. Western invalids will just have to deal with jello and white bread, unless they can bribe nurses into scoring some Taco Bell.