Sunday, 20 September 2009

Evening grub

I try to order two hot meals a day in the hope that one will be edible. Here's this evening's...

  • Potato dry but hot enough to burn your mouth. 
  • Peas cold and shrivelled.
  • Meat: have you ever smelt a really cheap can of dog food?
  • Dessert... rehash of lunch.


  1. Is it my imagination or have they spoiled you with two types of potato in that meal?

  2. You're absolutely right. Rock hard slices of leftover spud i the Lancashire Hotpot and mash that was boiling but without a trace of salt, butter, pepper or even a dash of milk. Sawdust would have more flavour. Peas nice but cold.

  3. Incidentally, there used to be a very cheap brand of dog food called Chappie. opening it made you heave as the smell escaped from the tin. The meat smelt just like it. I am not exaggerating. It was supposed to be lamb. Is it me or is not lamb supposed to be young tender meat. You could have coated the space shuttle with this stuff.

  4. I am going to comment on this beacsue this is the latest blog.

    At least you are not subject to the slowly building onslaught that is christmas.

    Mind you I dont suppose it will be long before they start to ply you with mince pies.

  5. If they try to put mince pies (cheap ones) anywhere near me then I promise you they will never take me alive!

  6. you'll OD on peas TM! and carbs and pus-dessert...

  7. What a Sunday meal!

  8. I do believe I have spotted some heartier fare on your plate. This is very good news as it allows your sommelier to offer you a more robust, full bodied and affirmitive wine selection. None of that wimpy, shy stuff now, we gots meat.

    I think it best if you choose one of the wines beloved by Bowery afficionados. Harvested from vinyards in the central Hoboken wine region. (the superfund sites give a subtle petroleum tang to the soil.) These wines will put hair on the chest of the meekest of maids. What say you to a Thunderbird Barrel Rolled Red? Vintage year 1999, aged in 50 gallon drums. The drums did hold ammonia for a time, which explains the turned fish smell wafting off your wine. But character counts in wine as it does in people.
    And this is a serial killer of a wine.


  9. I'd narrowed it down to a cheeky little Buckfast or a mature Wincarnis.

  10. Last time I was in hospital (about ten years ago) I remember one memorable meal consisting of fish fingers (over-cooked and dry as a bone), a dollop of white mush (think it might have been mashed potato) and some small, round green objects which would have been better suited to being fired from a Blunderbuss. I believe that they might have been peas.

    This blog is excellent Mark, I hope that you make a swift, fairly painless and speedy recovery.

  11. Oh so thats hotpot is it.....wondered what it was!. I have the pleasure of visiting several hospitals as a contractor and have say that if good quality food can be provided in the visitors canteen, why the hell can't the same canteen do the patiants food. The only thing which is crap in both Hosp is the bloody coffee...or rather that funny muddy coloured warmish stuff in a cup that comes out of the machine. Chin up TM!


  12. Have just talked "at" my dog and explained your dilema, he is prepared to share his evening meal with you in return for a decent walk when you are up and about again! Thanks for the doses of great medicine you are dishing out, shame we can't do the same for you - keep smiling. Zoe

  13. We do have a Costa coffee stall in the foyer but it's closed at weekends. Difficult to get to when you're tied to a bed.

  14. Dear Traction Man,
    I am a new visitor to your blog and wanted to know how much I appreciate your writing and how sorry I am that you are stuck in hospital having to eat this filthy muck. Anybody who posts negatively/accuses you of being spoilt/pretends that the NHS is free etc. needs shooting IMO. I wish I knew where you were so I could bring you something delicious to eat.
    with my very best wishes,

  15. If TM's true identity and location is revealed while he's still in hospital I suspect that he will be deluged with parcels containing good, wholesome (non perishable) food. :-)

  16. oh yuk, you poor thing.

    get well soon


  17. I used to work for the NHS and though had little to do with the food the rest of the year, at Christmas I had to serve up the Christmas dinner. It was the same odd colour and bore no more resemblance to turkey than a sock. I'm hoping you recover quickly and get back to real food.

  18. I almost sense a human hand at work in the plating: three main elements so it's laid out in a fundamental triangle; the scoop of mash a recognisable scoop-shape and even two little indents with the side of the scoop to add a tiny dash of personal flourish.

    OK, there's one rogue hot-pot potato at the top that's slipped over into the peas and one rogue pea that's snuck through to the bottom of the plate. But compare that with the random jumbling of your lunch and I reckon a human bean somewhere in the kitchen has said "Hey, a person like me has got to eat this, so let's make it look like something I would choose to eat myself."

    Only the look of it mind you so still some work to do with the chef, but just maybe there's a half-decent kitchen assistant lurking somewhere within the hospital.

  19. I think it's a serious sign that I thought your dinner looked ok.

    It must be Stockholm Syndrome by Proxy.

    Patty Herst

  20. Others have suggested (tongue-in-cheek?) that Jamie Oliver get involved in some way to improve hospital meals. His school meals project 'failed' in some ways due to the kids being too addicted to their standard fatty and greasy foods, but I'm sure that he could make a substantial improvement in hospital meals that few, if any, would moan about.

  21. I went through that, Patty. I used to apologise for not eating my food. Then I started to think it was tasty. I was thoroughly institutionalised. Fortunately I was released but then my leg broke.

  22. I am from the USA and new to your blog and have a question for the food service manager or the dietitian at your hospital.

    "Has any who makes up these menu's ever heard of high cholesterol or high blood pressure or diabetes?"

    Did anyone do a nutritional analysis of these meals or stop and think about what would happen to a bedbound inactive patient who actually ate what has been on all of these plates?

    I laughed as I read your blog but after stopping to think about your situation and multiplying your situation by the thousands of people in similar situations, I stopped laughing and started worrying.

    Is the same menu being served in homes for the elderly? or homes for juveniles in state care?

    Signed: Worried in Tennessee

  23. It's the same custard from lunchtime. Made in vast shipping containers for tuppence a throw in some third world country where the labour is cheaper ..

    There will have been rumblings in the quiet, carpeted corridors of power in Westminster as they worked on ways to reduce costs in the NHS .. bingo!

    "We knew we'd find SOMETHING we can cut costs on - THE FOOD!"

    "What? But that's ingenious! But wait - shouldn't we be giving them decent, nutritious meals so they can get better?"

    "Dolt! What do you think we're providing? Under our leadership the NHS is finally becoming a backstreet garage where people go to get mended, not a five star fricking hotel in fricking ffffffffrrrrrrICKING Knightsbridge, and about time too. It's their fault for resisting the inexorable march towards private health care for all at vast prices."

    Scurrying and forelock tugging. Obeisance.

    Funny, though - it doesn't feel like fiction, does it ..

    Enjoy Sunday night's television. I hope there's something good on, if only to take your mind off the smell of the meat.

  24. The smell of that dog food will linger for some time. I imagine it's like the smell of a decomposing corpse or a skunk... it never leaves you.

  25. I would have you out of there in a trice....


  26. My question is - do you eat this stuff? Or only some of it? Does your Missus have to smuggle you in Meals-on-Wheels or TV Dinners or something? I've just dropped 50 nicker in your tin so you can have a proper nosh. Cheers mate.
    BTW did you click on my avatar? Did it bring a smile to your dial?
    And here's something from my blog that I think you're gonna like -

  27. My question is - do you eat this stuff? Or only some of it? Does your Missus have to smuggle you in Meals-on-Wheels or TV Dinners or something? I've just dropped 50 nicker in your tin so you can have a proper nosh. Cheers mate.
    BTW did you click on my avatar? Did it bring a smile to your dial?
    And here's something from my blog that I think you're gonna like - Grifting a restaurant meal

  28. TM, having spent a year in a US hospital after being nearly killed by a drunk driver, I fully sympathise.

    One sure-fire path to improving hospital food quality is to drop a few plates of it on the desk of the hospital manager and wait until it's been eaten.

    Failing that, get on to Jamie Oliver and/or Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

  29. You are a gent. I'm most grateful. Your avatar is interesting to say the least. Added you to kindred spirits so others can enjoy.

  30. £50? Me thinks you should invest in takeaways every day for a week with that.

    Photos to compare and contrast...

    Start with a nice Indian.

  31. Aw... those foods certainly looks nutrious, a bit off the standard of restaurant, but hey, at least it beats hamburgers and greasy bacons all day.

  32. Mr T - if it smells like Butcher's Tripe dog food, then you have my total sympathy.

    One tin of that would have my house infested with cadaver dogs.

    Do photo the menu if you think you can a) retain your anonymity or b) hell - just out yourself, if they continue to serve crap food despite the negative PR coverage - what have you got to lose?

    My mum was terminally ill with cancer about 10 yrs ago and she was served up the same slop - I brought her fresh salads and dishes every day as she was on her last legs and had terribly sore mouth ulcers so found eating at all really tough.

    I was shocked at the complacency about nutrition for those that were ill and therefore needed a good quality diet more than anyone.

    Keep typing, get well soon and good luck.

  33. Vile, vile, vile - my dog would refuse to eat that muck, she only eats organic kibble thank you very much.
    My question to you as a veteran of Sydney hospital fare - for breakfast do they serve you bread that has touched the toaster for a second then got wet for some unknown reason and placed in a plastic bag to be presented to you all lovely and damp?

  34. As I said earlier, this is recycled from left overs - the proof is in the pudding! (literally). Bet the nearest muck donalds does very well. Some of the large hospitals even have a branch of the aformentioned in their foyers! I guess the people who allow paients to be 'fed' this stuff have forgotton that healing sick bodies depends on decent nutrition. Then again, most hospital managers have very little, if any, medical or nursing knowledge, humanity or common sense. Hope you soon get better and get released form your torture.

  35. From Brisbane again...

    My husband travels a lot and is in the habit of posting pictures of his meals via his iPhone on his Facebook page, but we feel ashamed that his meals are generally good (he tries to make nice meals a substitute for being away from home - a cheering treat every day) - although our son said the rocket and pear salad which appeared on Friday night looked like broken up grasshoppers covered in vomit. Comment on his father's photography skills i think.

    I used to get the starving children in Africa guilt trip thing when a child (I was a most irritatingly fussy eater). I now use this on my cats - "Many a starving kitten in Ethiopia..." I say in Self Righteous tones, when they refuse their cat food. I get the Disdainful What Did I Do to Deserve This Owner look which only cats can do.

  36. Dear T.M. I have been reading your blog over her in OZ. I remember that after the 2nd World War Australia sent food parcels to Blighty whilst they still had rationing. I am sure we could recreate that system for the N.H.S. food service. It sure needs it!! best wishes for a full recovery.

  37. Whoever called me a tosser... Are you what's known as an intellectual?

  38. Traction Man,

    I think you are not appreciating the the desserts ! Good old custard and some sort of stodgy pud is a great British tradition and makes me feel quite homesick .
    Moira - canada (british expat)

  39. I expect you're still crouched over your laptop typing into the night to all your family and friends Mr T. Or if not, you'll be awake in a couple of hours as dawn alerts the night staff to a thrilling new day at 5.30 a.m.

    I cannot imagine how dire it must be to be cut off from all sources of emotional, psychological, nutritional and alcoholic support whilst tied to a bed in a Centre of Hexcellence. Doesn't sound very Hexcellent to me, though I expect the orthopods would disagree.

    Hope breakfast is bearable. I don't suppose they've heard of boiled eggs, or kippers ..

    It was different in the old days (ahhh .. the old days). I used to be a nurse in a previous life, and whilst training on the wards we would pop into the kitchen to boil up an egg or two for a patient who was a bit undernourished, or make a cuppa for someone who couldn't sleep .. and so on. These days the NHS precludes nice things like a bit of midnight toast and tea for the insomniac patient bored with being trussed up to a block and pulley for months.

    Anyway, I'll move aside. Half the planet is queueing up to post here .. ;-)


  40. Your pictures bring back awful memories. I was hospitalised in Brisbane with glandular fever quite some years ago. The doc wouldn't let me leave until I was eating as I hadn't really eaten for about 3 weeks. I remember begging to be discharged and the doc saying you really need to eat a full meal while lifting the lid off my plate of brown glop. He looked at it and then me, back at it and said I think you can go home today.

    Hope you survive your incaceration. Does the Red Cross send care packages to NHS prisoners?

  41. from hospital in Sweden...


  42. One potato, two potatoes, three potatoes, four.... your hospital sure like the potato,eh?
    And nice comment back to the Anonymous Tosser. You tell 'em! By the way, you are my new hero. x

  43. I have to admit that mty first thought when seeing the latest meal photo was "that actually looks ok". It does look okayish, in a school dinner sort of way. I realise that looks can be deceptive and as I have been in hospital for a short time I believe you when you say it smells like Chappie dog food.

    My second thought was: the hospital kitchens have realised that tractionman is in "their" hospital, have figured out which ward he is on and are making sure that the food served to him LOOKS better. Yep, that's it. All your food is going to be more photogenic from now on.

  44. I found when I was last in hospital that the food was either too salty or too bland... and my highlight was being offered food such as an egg may sandwich, followed by egg custard that I am discouraged from eating by my lactose intolerance... I ended up begging for some toast...but I believe that is now not allowed under health and safety guidelines... poor you.. xx

  45. For those who think dear TractionMan should be more appreciative of his glop here is a stand-up sketch by Russell Kane on how the British bond on the negative and enjoy a good moan:

  46. It could be worse; I could bring you in something I've cooked ...

  47. Gosh... I just discovered your blog - through an Italian online newspaper - very interesting! I have a passion for food (this is my blog and what I see in those pictures is utterly awful. I hope you get well soon :-)

  48. There's an italian newspaper who spoke about your story. I've quoted it in my blog! Good Luck!

  49. Why are you ill in a British hospital at all when as a member of the EU you are no longer British first but European first as shown on your passport. Move to France where hospitals are heaven and your are served meals with the usual four dishes ending with cheese and dessert as if you were in a restaurant let alone menu comes printed with your own name on your tray and this in a public hospital. Result is a wellbalanced well prepared meal to cheer you up.

  50. In complete desperation at the appalling slop the kids used to get served as school dinners I started posting pictures of the school meals being served up in my boroughs schools. The daily mirror ran some of our pictures on the front page. The good news is that therehas been a dramatic improvement in the food. A lively campaign by parents led to the building of new kitchens at each school and the old contractors were kicked out. We too were criticised for being ungrateful and accused of being precious. If you are at the mercy of the state and have no real choice about where to eat then the state has a responsibility to provide decent grub.

    You can see pics of school meals on my blog but ironically pics not up to date as I am off school on crutches due to broken bones.

    Keep up the good work Traction Man. My Dad spent the last 3 weeks of his life in a hospital which couldn't afford to feed him an evening meal. St Helier hospitals menu seems to be determined by management consultatnts rather than dieticians.

  51. Hi Traction Man,

    Just thought I had better let you know that your pic is showing up.

    Thanks for providing an entertaining angle on a very serious problem. I really hope that some one, some where, will do something as a result of all of this media attention on the terrible plight of hospital patients around the world (to any doctors reading this - you really have a duty to try to improve the food for your patients - it is part of their treatment). We are all going to end up in hospital one day afterall.


  52. Ungrateful git - you don't know how lucky you are! When I was hospitalised (albeit briefly) in Kazakhstan several years ago, there was no food provided - at all! If it hadn't been for the provisions supplied by my wife (local) and her family, I would have simply died of starvation.

    OK, a bribe would have helped, but I wasn't too flush back then.

  53. Hi, this blog is brilliant. I had an operation in Italy (where i am from) few years ago and the food was appalling (in the worse sense). The only edible thing was a cooked apple. This was in a country renowned for its cuisine, haha! I think the most horrible course was the so called "minestra" (soup). I believe it was made with rinse out leftovers :-/
    Get well soon. All the best ;-)

  54. @The TEFL Tradesman

    I know living in Kazakhstan must have been tough but do try to get a sense of humour. You'll feel much better.

  55. Hi! My name is Marica, I'm italian (ROME).
    I was working in my office, when I find your blog. It's very good! Thanks.

  56. The humour's there, TM - I just guess you've been strung up for too long! Go read some Flann O'Brien to cheer yerself up!

  57. Photogenic can they make it tasty and nutritious as well?
    Its a finely balanced art and requires a good hand to do it.
    Still following along.Light and Love to you

  58. I find it odd that in a hospital , of all places, patients are being served unhealthy food that is bad for high blood pressure and high cholesterol sufferers.

    Pastry... High in fat and must be avoided
    Lamb..... Highest fat content of all meats.
    Custard.. E numbers, colour enhancers.
    Baked beans.. E numbers, colour enhancers.

    As for brocolli... Too much of any vegetable related to the brassica veg is very bad for Thyroid gland sufferers, if taking thyroxine tablets , the Brassica will counter effect the thyroid tablets.

    My God , someone needs to really inspect the menu in hospitals.

    Having had an underactive thyroid gland since over 30 years ,and high blood pressure and high cholestorol plus diabeties type 2 since a couple of years, I have researched all aspects of healthy food. The slop you are being served is not fit for the human digestive tract let alone anything else.

    What are they feeding the people that have my health problems I wonder, water biscuits would be healthier.