Hospital Food Diary in Italy

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Up and then down

Having previously finished my first hospital meal after an x-ray, a horrible white slime set meal, I was terrified that it would last until the day I left the hospital.

Due to the care taken not to burden my stomach, I almost didn’t have to chew during the meal, it was like “drinking hospital food”. It was so disgusting that I couldn’t even eat the whole thing, and thanks to the fact that it was too easy to digest, my stomach emptied out soon afterwards.

And then I fell into poverty and was only looking forward to breakfast the next morning, never once did breakfast appear.

But early that night, a miracle happened.

I sighed deeply, and today’s hospital meal came in front of me. I sighed deeply, and today’s hospital food arrived in front of me.

Suddenly, luxury!!

It’s a complete turnaround from last night’s baby food to a full-blown aristocratic meal that would rival any major airline’s in-flight meal.

Tomato risotto, prosciutto, mashed potatoes and bread, and apple puree. I’ve been in bad condition since I came to Italy and could not eat a typical Italian meal, so I was naturally drawn to this very Italian menu structure, and every dish was very tasty.

It may look bad for the healthy people, but for me, who was in extreme poverty and thought that the slime diet of hell was going to continue forever, this situation is already “heaven”. This is exactly what happened to Cinderella, who until yesterday was ashen, was suddenly promoted to princess of the Medici family.

I finished the meal in no time at all, impressed by the taste and this miracle, and looked forward to the meal tomorrow.

And having been very pleased with yesterday’s dinner, here is my dinner for the next day.

Huh…? Not relegated…?

Gone is the meatiness of yesterday’s prosciutto and the vibrancy of the tomato sauce, and today’s menu is a lineup of sautéed zucchini, salted soggy chicken, tasteless penne, oranges, and an Italian cracker called a grissini, all of which are crispy.

The menu was not a return to the Cinderella of the beginning, but it was somehow melancholy and simple, with a saltiness that even I, a Japanese with a very sensitive palate who knows the fifth taste above the four basic tastes of “umami,” could not feel. In one day, the menu was relegated to that of a servant to the Medici princess, so to speak, using only a little olive oil and salt.

And the nurse serving me a meal said something shocking to me, as my tension had clearly plummeted compared to last night.

“Sorry, sorry! I served you the wrong rice yesterday!

“You’re still recovering from your stomach, so I did this way! (smiling)

Are you kidding me?!?! I’ve got it all last night!!!

I was stunned by the brainy Italians who forgot about the patient’s condition and served me an indigestible menu by mistake, only to end up with a smile on their faces, and I was at my wits’ end when that noble, luxurious meal was suddenly downgraded to a commoner’s meal.

For some reason I can’t hate Italians

Last night, after being shockingly demoted, I was so depressed that my friend who came to visit me grabbed a few euro coins and instructed me to buy some chocolates from the store downstairs. Then, ignoring the advice not to step out of the hospital room, I grew into a delinquent girl, sneaking out of the room with my friend to buy a Coke from the vending machine and drink it.

After drinking a small can of Coke, I went back to the room and got into bed with a blank expression on my face, and an old Italian lady handed me a piece of paper and a pencil.

I thought I was going to be asked to write a confession after I was found out for my earlier misdeeds, but the paper handed to me was written in Italian and had some items to check.

I can’t read Italian, but I knew it was a food questionnaire, just guessing from the words pasta and risotto, hamburger and yogurt.

And as I tried my best to read the written Italian, the Italian grandmother who gave me the paper pointed to the items on the paper one by one and explained them to me with gestures.

Apparently, this was a questionnaire about the menu for dinner, and it was an innovative system that allowed patients to choose their own dinner from the choices. In Japan, hospitals generally do not have any requests for hospital food, but rather the hospital always serves the menu that they have chosen, so the idea of giving patients a choice of food was very interesting to me.

After that, the Italian lady didn’t speak any English, but she continued to try her best to talk to me in Italian, and when explaining the meat menu, she went out of her way to imitate the cries of pigs, chickens, etc., respectively, to teach me.

Of course, I don’t say that all Italians are always like that, but in my experience, even if they don’t speak the same language as the person they’re speaking to, they never give up immediately and try their best to communicate what they want to say or convey with their signature gestures along with the Italian language.

Communication between people is very interesting. Even if they speak different languages and do not understand each other’s words, if they have a strong desire to convey something to each other, their hands and facial expressions will naturally move in accordance with their emotions, and they will try to express themselves to the other person with their whole body, and in the end, it is not unusual for them to communicate without a “common language”.

Of course, some people may find it troublesome that their words don’t come across immediately or think that they should use a translator, but I really like communicating with people who don’t have a language in which they can reliably understand each other, such as English, the universal language.

It is true that words are difficult to convey, and it may be an inefficient method of communication that takes a lot of time and effort, but on the contrary, it is a very human and heartfelt act of “taking the time and effort to communicate”, and I am moved and filled with love by that kind of communication.

They are heady, super jovial and fast-paced. No matter how many times I am swept up in the temperament of the Italians, I am always moved by their passionate love and kindness, and I can’t stop loving them.