Around The World In 8 Hospital Meals
A hospital is probably the last place a foodie traveling abroad wants to grab a bite.
After all, hospital food here in the U.S. conjures a stereotype of mystery meat and a starchy, bland side. But around the globe, there’s a lot of variety. A scan of hospital food pictures on Flickr and various blogs reveals gastronomic works of art — as well as what looks pretty close to the gruel Oliver Twist must have been fed in his workhouse. (Hat tip to Buzzfeed, which curated a collection of some of these images.)
Even within the same country, what’s served from hospital to hospital can differ wildly, according to Aatul Jain, operations manager and executive chef at Saint Clare’s Health Systems, a private hospital in New Jersey. Jain, who grew up in India, keeps track of the international hospital food scene, such as it is.
"In India — and in China — it’s the same thing. You have these [private] hospitals that are like super, five-star deluxe hotels," he says. "It beats any of the care we get over here. It beats any of the services we get over here in the Western world. "
Meanwhile, a person who isn’t wealthy might end up at a public hospital, where offerings are much more modest. So the pictures people post online, like those included in the Buzzfeed list, may not be representative of the food in a given country’s hospital system.
Here at The Salt, we reached out to some of the food photogs we came across to hear about what they were served. Responses were mixed.
Continue reading and see more photos.
Photos (top to bottom):
Malaysia: Wow! This meal even looks like it’s served on real china. Flickr user Hewyk posted this lunch from a Malaysian hospital. (hewyk/Flickr)
Qatar: "The food was excellent, I enjoyed it and rank it as good if not better than any hospital food I have had anywhere," said Flickr user Brian Candy of his meal at a hospital in Qatar. (Brian Candy/Flickr)
Japan: "Everything was well presented and delicious," Flickr user Annabelle Orozco wrote about the food she ate at an Osaka hospital. "To me it was particularly attractive for hospital food." (Annabelle Orozco/Flickr)
Austria: "I think I actually got depressed from how bad it was," Flickr user girl_onthe_les said about this hospital lunch served up in Austria in 2012. Us too. (girl_onthe_les/Flickr)
My mom is constantly in and out of the hospital, and the hospital in Podunk has… some… well, some people in the city much prefer to drive 30 minutes out to the next city for care if the option is available. My family has really had few complaints, so we still stay within that health system here.
But the thing we have NEVER had a complaint about is the food. Holy shit. I am going to admit to you guys, there were a couple times I was just downtown in the vicinity of the hospital and I swung in for lunch 100% voluntarily. I get cravings for a specific wrap they sell. I have dreams about this amazing chicken marsala dish they made one time.
The food they take up to the rooms is just as good, if much more likely to be low sodium and low sugar, but it’s still fucking great.