This article was inspired from a recent dietetic training period at a French hospital. The opinions shared in this post are solely my own. The name of this hospital will remain anonymous, but I can attest in my professional and personal opinion that the health standards in this hospital (including hygiene, meals, nutritional care, patient satisfaction) were average to exemplary.
Taste or Nutrition: Who Should Have the Last Word When Feeding Hospital Patients?
I was nervous. First day jitters. If I passed this mandatory internship I would have the legal right to practice as a French dietitian.
I sat in the dietetic office absorbing this new environment. With deep breaths, I started to calm down and smile. This training was going to be interesting, both on a professional and cultural level.
My first day set the standards on how the French do things. Things got moving quickly with a big debate on taste:
I thought to myself, “Ah, les Français et leur exigence avec le goût.” Ah, the French and their (high) standards for taste.
Houston, we have a problem.
The problem? The chefs were not happy. The hospital recipe for crepes uses rum in the batter. Children and recovering alcoholic patients shouldn’t be served food with rum or any alcohol.
And that wasn’t the only dilemma.
There were other recipes with alcohol that the hospital chefs routinely prepare. For example, the famous Lapin à la moutarde et vin blanc. (Rabbit with mustard and white wine sauce). The hospital chefs didn’t want to make this rabbit without adding the white wine to the sauce. And that was their final word.
The chefs explained, “you see, dietitians, taste of food is trés important.”
Yes, chefs. But so is nutrition and dietetic standards. And the hospital rule of no alcohol on the premises. What about that?
Rabbit with white wine sauce
When old-fashioned chefs clash with new nutritional standards
There is a no alcohol policy in this hospital; for the patient’s food, the staff cafeteria and for hospital social events. In theory, all the hospital food should be prepared without alcohol to follow the nutritional (and hospital) standards. But the chefs have their own standard:
Taste. Taste. Taste.
The chefs wanted to prove their point. It was determined that a taste test between rabbit sans wine to rabbit with wine would convince the hospital dietitians that taste should have a higher preference over this no alcohol rule. (I will make a note here to say that the pediatric patients and recovery alcoholic patients never receive rabbit with wine sauce as part of their menu choices. The rabbit with mustard and white wine was offered to all other hospital patients).
So the dietitians did the taste test. Rabbit prepared with and without white wine.
Guess who won? The wine did. It tasted better and it looked better on the plate.
When I left the training period a month later, rabbit with white wine sauce was still on the menu. A small quantity of pre-made crepes without rum were ordered by an off-site company for the pediatric and detox patients. The debate continues.
On what side are you more favorable? The chefs or the dietitians? Shout out your opinion in the “Leave a Reply” section below.
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