Watching this week's Dispatches: The Truth About Hospital Food (C4, 21 February 8pm) and Heston's Mission Impossible (C4, 22 February 9pm) brought the memories flooding back.
To describe what's dished up to today's NHS patients as sub-school dinner would be flattering it. It's sub petfood, as Dispatches reporter Mark Sparrow discovered when he spent 10 weeks in hospital.
So appalled was he by the inedible and often unrecognisable dishes he was being served that he kept a blog sharing with the world the shocking depths to which NHS catering has sunk. It made for stomach-churning viewing particularly the lamb lasagne which, apart from sounding wrong, looked like puke (and no doubt made patients puke).
With the site attracting 26,000 hits a day, it was only a matter of time before the hospital authorities got wind of it and Sparrow was promptly offered dishes from the staff menu, which were poles apart from the slop patients were getting courtesy of Sodexo. Yet, incredibly, nay criminally, the hospital wouldn't accept there was a problem indeed it claimed that 70% of the patients rated the food good or very good.
Blumenthal faced a similar uphill battle at Alder Hey Children's Hospital. If it was distressing to see what adults are expected to eat, it was doubly so to see what sick kids are given especially when, once again, the staff seemed to be getting decent grub. But was Blumenthal the man to challenge the status quo? I wasn't convinced.
It's one thing to inject some razzle dazzle into meal times (yes, liquid nitrogen was deployed), but serving up real worms (on pizza) was surely going to try even the most open-minded kids, let alone hospital authorities. And although he was on to something with the vomit soup and snot shakes young kids do, after all, love nasty-sounding things was this sort of nosh really going to appeal to teens? Apparently yes.
In fact, the kids loved the menu so much, the hospital decided to roll it out in part anyway. Good old liquid nitrogen. Works every time.
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