I could write a whole piece on hospital food and snacks. On the lack of taste or the overly salted, or the ultra-processed snack options and chronic-disease-causing vittles. But I’d rather focus on another part: the long menu of a la carte meal options, the cooks cranking out 1000s of meals a day, the dedicated staff delivering meals with kind smiles, and returning some time later to take my tray away. The loving way someone has precisely folded my napkin and arranged my cutlery like stair-step children, knife, fork, spoon. And there is some attempt at making the plate look appealing. I wouldn’t call it PLATING exactly—there are no fancy swirls of expensive reduction sauces or snippets of edible wildflowers around the edge.
But there is some attention to detail which I absorb. In this mammoth institution where people are trying to get well, somewhere in the basement kitchen there are people who create a menu, order supplies, unload crates, tear this lettuce, stir my soup, smash these potatoes, wash my dishes. In my world, the kitchen is always the central artery of the house, food is always our best medicine. So even while I take in the modern stuff, the chemotherapy, the high-tech miracles I am hoping for, I will savor my mashed potatoes and enjoy this overcooked chicken because someone took time to think about, make it, and deliver it with kindness.