Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Hospital Food's Saving Grace


I haven't posted in some time for the simple reason that I've been in the hospital. No, it wasn’t COVID-19 related, but the problem with my innards was nasty enough to knock me down for the count, requiring emergency surgery.

Hospital food isn't what you think it is. It's a hundred times worse than your worst culinary imaginings. I'm still having nightmares about their meatloaf and, so called, "mashed potatoes."

While I was initially tempted to chalk this house of epicurean horrors up to sadism, the reason for the bland flavors and funky textures is far more mundane.  A single kitchen has to produce the healthiest possible food (low salt, low fat, etc...) for hundreds of patients, each with their own dietary needs and restrictions.  Frankly, it's a miracle hospital kitchens do as well as they do.   Being aware of this fact didn't make the crispy chunks of mashed potatoes or the grey chicken based sausage any easier to eat though.

| Subject: Orange Sherbet |
| Date: 01/16/2021 | Photographers: Shelby Hester & James Kiester |
| Permissions: Photo taken for this blog |

Just as all hope seemed lost, I found a single purse among the proverbial pigs ears.  I am, of course, speaking of the sweet confection known as sherbet (or sometimes sherbert).  According to TheFreeDictionary.com, Sherbet is "a frozen dessert made mainly of fruit juice or fruit purée, usually with sugar and milk or cream."

As the cups of creamy sweet tart deliciousness were keeping me sane, I suspected the hospital served it for its non-dairy properties.  Turns out, I wasn’t entirely correct.  Like sorbet, sherbet is made of fruit juice and sugar.  What sets sherbet apart from its fruity cousin is the 1% to 2% inclusion of milk or cream in order to produce the creamy texture sherbet is known for.

Sherbet is perfectly balanced between juiciness & creaminess, and sweetness & tartness.  Yet, the confection is almost entirely associated with grade schools and/or hospitals.  I'd be willing to wager that most people reading this blog haven't even thought about sherbet since eating it with a little wooden spoon during a sixth grade field trip.   Once I was released from the hospital, I corrected the error of my ways by treating myself to a gallon of sherbet to keep in my freezer.   It's become my new favorite dessert.   

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