May 12, 2014

And What Would You Like With That... #3 - Is Hospital Food Really That Bad?

Vegetarian: Someone who does not condone the killing of animals for human consumption, and therefore does not eat meat, fish or any animal byproduct (such as gelatin and animal rennet), or buy leather of fur. 

Here that Christies? DOES NOT EAT FISH. A vegetarian doesn't eat fish. No, really. Not even the salmon salad. 

Or the cod in dill sauce. 

Therefore, offering me fish as a veggie option was never going to go down well. 

And even when the veggie option actually is veggie, it is usually cheese, in one of various guises. If we are being totally honest here (and what's the point if we're not) they have two main vegetarian meals. Cheese flan, and cauliflower cheese. Though they appear on the menu with many different names... cheese and onion flan, cheese and tomato flan, cheese pie, cheese and onion pie, cauliflower mornay, cauliflower and broccoli mornay... I was once offered cauliflower cheese for lunch and cauliflower and broccoli bake for tea. Hmmm... Now that is what I call a balanced diet. Good to know that you practise what you preach NHS. 

(One nurse once agreed with my complaining by saying that if you were a vegetarian and always ate the prescribed veggie option at every meal you would end up with a very high cholesterol. As if we cancer patients didn't have enough problems.)

To be honest, apart from a few times at the start, I didn't really partake in the cheese fest. Life is too short (and I'm too tired) to scrape the cheese off cauliflower cheese, and so here is a selection (most of) the non-cheese actually vegetarian meals I "enjoyed" (read: tolerated). They sometimes did specials which were vegetarian, with varying degrees of success, some of the best meals I was served were 'specials'; although they still had problems with cooking their veg. And if you're going to make a dodgy broccoli stir-fry, it should be mainly broccoli not mainly onion. And we're talking 90% onion, 2 florets of broccoli, a few (3) paper thin (and we're talking REALLY thin paper) mushroom slices, and overcooked Quorn. I was not impressed. And I wasn't the only one. 

And I would like to point out that it wasn't just the veggie meals that were sub-standard. Apparently the meat (and fish) options were often lacking as well. I noticed sandwiches were popular. I know that when you're ill you can be off your food, but bad food doesn't help the situation. Especially when you spend long periods of time being offered bad food. 

The roast potatoes were nice though. And the mash. (Though not if all I was having was mash). 

And the ward kitchen was well stocked with Heinz tins. And cheese on toast. And cereal. And they could get you a baked potato from the canteen at lunch. The nurses were better cooks than the cooks were. 

Now this is a rarity that I didn't get offered much. Pasta. Which I must say, did surprise me a bit cause quite a lot of vegetarian options usually served revolve around pasta (pasta with tomato sauce and cheese, vegetable lasagna etc...). However, I didn't like it very much. The tomato sauce tasted weird, the vegetables didn't all seem to belong in an Italian inspired dish (swede? and carrots made it seem like they'd put the stew vegetables in by mistake) and the pasta was a bit... floppy. And just generally overcooked. 

Vegetable stew with Quorn(TM). Someone needs to show the people who need to know how to cook Quorn. Because this is not it. Try going for the carrots, sometimes they're okay. And I've tried, it is not improved by putting off eating it to the extent that it goes cold. And this is one of the better non cheese veggie meals. 

Bean salad and potato wedges. This is essentially a side salad with some canned beans on the side. It is really not the most exciting or appetising of meals. It is also not much good if you don't have many white blood cells at the time and so aren't allowed to eat salad. As Dad says, they just haven't thought it through very much. 

See, look how much better the things that we've baked on the ward with the occupational therapist look compared to the food the kitchen sends up. No wonder people loose weight when they have cancer. 

These are both vegetarian sausage and potato pie. Yeah, we couldn't find the pastry either. You should of been there for the mushroom tart. A mouse ate all the pastry before it got to us. As you can see, the meals are not always very consistent. One has lots of gravy the other very little. And beware of the slimy green things. No leek deserves to be treated like that. It's a crime against vegetables. Also, sometimes the gravy can be very SALTY. You would think they want to give us a heart attack. The sausages vary from day to day, sometimes they could be worse, sometimes they are worse. And the last time I had this dish they were just downright burnt. 

Wedges and sweetcorn. Who cares about protein? (Except the dietitian.) (I added the crispy onions to the sweetcorn - what can I say, it was a bit flat.) 

I know that I'm not all that interested in heat right at the minute, but this veg curry was just ridiculous. On top of that, the veg was hard to the point I couldn't put my knife in to cut it. The rice was nice though. And the few small bits of green leafy stuff that I salvaged. 

Another veg curry. And like the sausage and potato 'pie', they aren't very consistent. This one, for example, was not to hot. Although the vegetables still were pretty bad. They get a lot of abuse when being cooked at the Christie. It's better than the time when they forgot to cook the rice though...

A very salty very bland soup. Yes, that is a possible combination. Seriously, they have a habit of making things very salty here. Like really salty. You can't see the vegetables much here cause I sprinkled bacon bits (yes, they are actually veggie) on the top to try and make it more appetising, but it was basically celery and leeks suspended in a tomato stock. Not a tomato based soup, a tomato-y stock. With the separated oil floating on the top. And this is one of the better soups they do- with it's origins in something you might actually want to cook. 

And this is what breakfast from the canteen looks like. It is generally considered to be the best meal that they serve. I usually had Coco-Pops though. 

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