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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Heston Blumenthal takes on hospital food – what idiocy

This is pure gripe. Pure moaning and of zero use for helping you with your 50-plus marketing. I am sure you have got better things to do than read any further.

Don’t get me wrong, I reckon Heston Blumenthal is good bloke, a close friend’s daughter, who is a chef, reckons he is one step away from sainthood.

However, this current venture demonstrates a lot that is wrong with UK plc.

Heston is collaborating with the University of Reading and the town's Royal Berkshire Hospital to bring his Michelin-star quality to the menu.

This quote from the media paints the picture

The meals are to be enhanced by increasing their umami properties - the Japanese word for delicious and savoury which is often described as the fifth taste, alongside sweet, sour, bitter and salty.

They will initially to be tried out on patients at the Royal Berkshire Hospital next year, after a lengthy period of research and testing, and it is hoped the project could then be rolled out nationwide.

The three-year project, which is in its first phase, involves scientists working alongside Mr Blumenthal, initially on enhancing the flavour of minced meat.

Unfortunately, I have been spending far too long surrounded by older people in hospital and have seen all too plainly the issues with the food and why so much of it is not eaten.

The idea that fiddling around with the taste of the stuff is going to make one jot of difference is sheer idiocy. OK, a three year research grant for a bunch of academics is good to have (for them) and no doubt they will have a few good meals at Heston’s restaurant along the way, but don’t for a nano-second think it will make any difference. It is a bit like having a rusty old car with a failing engine and thinking that changing a light bulb will increase its performance.

Why don’t older people eat the food? It is cold by the time it gets to them, it is badly cooked, it has the cheapest of ingredients and it is dumped in front of them, irrespective of if they have the means to use a spoon, knife or fork and whipped away after an hour or three, eaten or not-eaten. Abysmal cooking, abysmal service and abysmal assistance to people that need assistance.

If the academics at Reading were to do anything of use then they should have a go at solving these problems. Methinks the attraction of a Heston’s good grub will be too strong. Dick Stroud

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