Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Where to Eat Whilst Your Manly Heir is Being Borned: Part 2, Just Eat Your Wife's Hospital Food

I have a thing for institutional food, don't know why. I always got a kick out of AirlineMeals.Net and I once actually tracked down the USDA recipe for school lunch Spaghetti with Meat Sauce (you can browse this and others here) as it was always one of my favorites. So I felt a little guilty that I was kind of looking forward to arrival of those paper doily-ed, plastic tray-ed, meals that would be arriving during my wife's stay at St. Peters.

You might have read my "Meals that Define a Life Post" concerning the first bread broken by my wife, Giblet (my darling daughter), and I. That time the hospital meal showed up about an hour after we had left the recovery room. It made us laugh as food was the last thing on my wife's mind at that moment, I took it as an omen and made a point of eating the lion's share of it. This time meals began arriving a sensible time after the coming of Mr. Dave Jr.

This is more of a pictorial review as I find some sort of strange beauty in your work-a-day institutional meal. There is an od zen, everything in its own place and portion. Most of the food is fairly straight forward anyhow, nothing really surprising. I feel that looking at the pictures you can probably imagine what they would have tasted like.

As an aside, much cajoling would not induce my wife to eat much of anything. She is notoriously picky anyways, and she was afflicted by a bit of post-partum nausea. I got her tea and soup from various provisioners over the course of her stay at St. Peter's.

I will hit the high notes (there weren't that many) but will primarily be rating the meals on how bad they made the room stink (on a scale of one to five) as this was what my wife squalled about the most. It was pretty funny watching her nose purse up by varying degrees according to the contents of the tray.

1) (at the top) Ham with scalloped tatties, mixed veg, pound cake wit' berries, tea, chicky soup. Scalloped tatties unbearably bland, drank the tea, Giblet really liked the berries. Room Stinky-ness Factor: 2.5

2) (above) Baked chicken, pasta "primavera" (I guess), broccoli, wee salad, ginger beer, vanilla ice cream cup. Yum, ice cream cup.... Liked the Italian dressing in the ketchup packet thingy, pasta primavera gook had that weird canned vegetable water taste. Room Reek Factor: 5+ (broccoli tips the scale)

3) Hot cakes, scrambly eggs, grits, fruit cup, coffee/milk/juice (3 bevies? I can't live at that spead). The hot cakes had a surprising bit of crusty goodness to them but the grits were an insult to the word grits (I love grits). Room Stench: 1.5 (eggs had a bit of stink, not bad all together)

4) Grilled cheese, mashed tatties, fruit cup, tomato soup, ginger beer. How can you go wrong with grilled cheese and tomato soup? By adding mashed potatoes with gravy, that's how (unnecessary).  Room Odor: 0 (pleased the Missus)

5) Baked chick., corms, mashed taters (chicken gravy), vanilla pudding (!), chicken soup, ginger beer. Three forms of chicken (meat, gravy, soup)... However, vanilla pudding!!! Weee!!! Room Stink: 2 (strange canned soup smell)

6) Chicken Ceasar salad, appy sauce, chicken soup, ginger beer. Passable salad, dressing was pretty good but chicken was a lil' bit slimy. Chicken soup same as previous incarnations, starting to think that the hospital has an alliance with the chicken rackets. El Stencho: 2 (as previous, soup stank)

7) Beef stew, biscuit, wee salad, fruit cocktail, tea. Beef stew not bad in a comforting sort of way. Tea, as always, lifts the soul in any form. Reek Rating: 5++ (beef stew? I checked my daughters dappy)

8) Pain perdu, orange slice, oatmeal, fruit, beverage trio. French toast not bad actually. Oatmeal strangely thin, as if put through a blender. Room Stink: Nil (neutral)

So that is that, I think I missed a couple of meals but you get the gist. Overall, I have had much worse when it comes to this genre of food. The commissary staff at St. Peter's are unimpeachably attentive and friendly and will pretty much prepare anything you want within their understandable limitations. We did not make any special requests as the wife and I knew that she would not be consuming much of the offerings. We abhor wasting food, but the hospital (by policy) insisted on bringing us the meals. This is said lest you think that I was stealing food out of the mouth of a lady who recently gave birth...

Anyhow, a couple more posts in this series I think. I found an interesting watering hole, and I have a few other thoughts...

By the way, did anyone notice that the weather was near perfect around 4:00 PM today (in Bethlehem)? I was pushing Giblet in her stroller and it could not have been more beautiful of a day.


  1. Hi!

    First I want to congratulate you!

    I liked the pictures of the hospital food - I understand your strange attraction to packaged and measured meals as I feel the same towards airline meals.

    Keep writing, I'm reading your blog for ... I think your White Castle casserole caught me at first ... three (?) years. And I'd like to keep reading. :)

    Greetings from Germany

  2. Congratulations on your son to you and Mrs. Dave. How is Ms Giblet handling the new addition?

  3. Felix-

    Thank you for your sentiment. I always wonder if people who do not read English as their first language manage to make sense of my posts. I make liberal use of colloquialisms and other gibberish (americanisch umgangssprach).

  4. Not to put too fine a point on it, but those cans look like Seagram's Ginger Ale, and not ginger beer.

    Frankly, I've never looked into any kind of official classification between the two. But to me ginger beer is the intense, cloudy, and snappy stuff of my dreams.

    I once spent more on the right ginger beer from Bermuda than I did for the rum to make a certain famous nautically inspired cocktail.

    My wife and I actually had good scalloped potatoes when Little Miss Fussy was born, but the culinary highlight of that experience was the coffee. Damn, our hospital knew what was really important to those in the maternity ward.

  5. Ah Daniel B., reference the above comment on the gibberish I use in my posts. I like saying ginger beer now, it is fun to say.

    But now that you mention it (having actually brewed ginger ale/beer). I thought I should research.

    From the wiki-

    "Ginger Ale has a storied history in the United States. Ginger ales come in two varieties: "golden" and "dry". Golden ginger ale is dark colored, generally sweet to taste, with a strong ginger spice flavor. It is the older style and there is little or no difference between this and nonalcoholic versions of ginger beer. Many believe golden ginger ale is a form of ginger beer brought into North America by migrants from Eastern Europe,[citation needed] where it had been known for centuries. Golden ginger ale, like ginger beer, is mainly consumed as a soda type drink in its own right."

    I guess it is a European/American distinction. But I agree, if you see Ginger Beer in this country it is generally a more homespun and hearty beverage.

  6. This too.

    Dry ginger ale (paler, and with much less of the ginger "kick") became popular in the United States during the Prohibition era, when it was used as a mixer for alcoholic beverages, as the strong flavor of golden ginger ale was undesirable. Dry ginger ale quickly surpassed golden ginger ale in popularity, and today, golden ginger ale is an uncommon, and usually regional, drink. By contrast, dry ginger ale is produced on a vast scale for national and international consumers.

  7. Mr. Dave, at least I have no problem understanding your posts. But then almost everything I read or watch is English; it really helps in understanding colloquial language.

  8. as someone who has collectively spent about 2 full years of her life in a hospital or treatment facility, i am totally with you. hospital food is food that is totally gross on one level, and absolutely nommable on another. usually i solve the gross factor by drowning all in delicious ketchup packets and those crazy no-salt seasoning packets or pepper. makes everything awesome. institutional grilled cheese and little cartons of milk? awesome. also, this one hospital i was at is infamous to me because of the fact that it is the only place in my area where i can find kozy shack VANILLA pudding (the king of puddings-- even homemade isn't as satisfying to me). i can find every other variety easily, but vanilla is my favorite and i love it and i have been known to drive to the hospital for the sole purpose of procurement.


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