The Sisyphean task of tendering expeditious food service to intermittent parades of time pressured hospital personnel gave way to many unique innovations. Fiberglass trays were easily propelled along shiny chrome runners that minimized friction as hungry diners made their selections. Just as ceramic tile was the defining element to the operating rooms, chrome was the underlying theme to old school hospital cafeterias. The shiny stuff was just about everywhere from the food displays to borders on any horizontal surface. Even the Sweeda cash register was chrome.
A small army of colorful characters on the supply side of the chow line could cut a gigantic sheet cake into perfect 3 inch square pieces or whip up a massive vat of our favorite desert , Whip N' Chill in the blink of an eye. I don't recall the flavor of my favorite whipped desert but it was red in color. That food dye would leave a permanent stain so be careful with that white uniform.
Just about any standing kettle of soup or chili would acquire a 1 inch thick layer of gooey grease that rose to the top. These underpaid but well meaning food service workers had bulging forearms from the near constant stirring motion necessary to keep the grease in suspension.
In the OR all of our cases ended in an ectomy and in the cafeteria all the meat product entrees ended in the suffix ette. There was my favorite pork chopette, steakette, hamcheesette, and last. but not least chicken croquette. None of today's pretentious light and fit, locally sourced artisanal food here. Artificial flavors and texture enhancers were embraced as a great space age wonder. Those clever scientists were hard at work making our food taste better. Great work and don't spare the MSG and nitrates.
The three horsemen of addictive, pathogenic food additives were proudly displayed as the centerpiece of each table. A gigantic cylindrical dispenser of good old fashioned sugar was always front and center, tempting nurses to drown their fatigue in a hyperglycemic rush. Pepper and salt were readily available. There was nothing like dousing highly processed foodstuffs in salt for a hypertensive boost. The artery clogging fat of a pork chopette could be supplemented by that insulated mini carafe of whole cream for your coffee. Some folks liked to add a spot of whole cream to their Whip 'N Chill to give it "extra body," but I preferred mine unadulterated.
Perhaps it's time to resurrect old school hospital cafeteria food. In the mindset of today's greedy hospital corporate types foods like this are an integral component of a dynamic profit circle. Consume these high fat, high sugar, processed food and business is booming in the diabetic clinic and cardiovascular services. Besides, I have a decades long hankering for just one more pork choppette