Salsa Verde for the Soul

A very patient review of Presbyterian Hospital cuisine.

Idly perusing the newspaper one day, I happened on an article announcing that Presbyterian Hospital of Plano had won the prestigious Ivy Award for Excellence in Institutional Food Service. I made a note to look into it. Fast-forward a couple of weeks to 6 am, when I was jarred from sleep by the painful sensation that my entire abdomen was trying to wrench itself free of my body. After a hurried trip to the emergency room of (you guessed it) Presbyterian Hospital, I awoke hours later to the genial sideways grin of my surgeon, who said, “Do you know you could have died?” Bowel blockage, despite its rather humorous-sounding name, can indeed be fatal.

Because of this, for the first two days, I was placed on a diet of broth and Jell-O. Then, at long last, came the blessed day when my surgeon disconnected my catheter, ceremoniously handed me a regular menu, and announced, “And now you may order dinner!” Anytime between 7 am and 7 pm, I could place my order for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and provided the food was not on my restricted list, a smiling attendant would deliver my meal within 45 minutes. I soon learned that the strength of the menu lay in the section called “Chef’s Recommendations.” For example, how do shrimp enchiladas with salsa verde grab you? Served with crema, queso fresco, and avocado relish, they were delicious. I defy anyone to submit to a blindfolded taste test and declare it hospital food. Similarly, the grilled beef tenderloin, served in Burgundy mushroom sauce with whipped horseradish gold potatoes and asparagus, was stellar stuff indeed.

I have just one modest proposal for Presbyterian. Could you possibly consider adding a wine list to your menu? After all, the grilled beef tenderloin really could use a big, bold Australian Shiraz to bring its flavors to full fruition. And just think what a crisp Chenin Blanc could do with those shrimp enchiladas.