Great hospital food and a chili cook off


In some places, the chili has meat

In others watch out for the heat!

I might cause a scene

But I won’t use a bean

And the cocoa I might have to delete

Synopsis: I’m a Family Practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. In 2010 I danced back from the brink of burnout, and honoring a 1 year non-compete clause, traveled and worked in out-of-the-way places in Alaska, Nebraska, Iowa, and New Zealand. After three years working with a Community Health Center, I went back to adventures in temporary positions until they have an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system I can get along with. Assignments in Nome, Alaska, rural Iowa, and suburban Pennsylvania stretched into fall 2015. Since last winter I’ve worked in Alaska and western Nebraska, and taken time to deal with my wife’s (benign) brain tumor. After a moose hunt in Canada, and short jobs in western Iowa and Alaska, I am working in Clarinda, Iowa. Any identifiable patient information has been included with permission.

I find money. Mostly I find small change, a nickel here and a dime there, on a handful of occasions I’ve found enough to actually buy something with.  Finding a dime when McDonald’s had 15 cent hamburgers meant a lot more than finding a quarter now.  For the most part I use credit cards for business transactions, reserving cash for small vendors, and before Clarinda I had gone out of my way to avoid carrying coins.

But the cafeteria here serves very good food. I carry change now because I can buy a great lunch with it.

Working locum tenens has given me an appreciation for the wide variety of hospital food. In Barrow they cooked with love and imagination, and if I had had a party I would have tried to get them to cater.  I ate for free there, but Bethany paid $10 per meal, reasonable for a place where airplanes bring groceries.

At another place in coastal Alaska they either overcooked or undercooked everything but the soup, and charged way too much. In a couple of places I didn’t get an employee discount.

And in one hospital the cafeteria consisted of nothing but a bank of noisy vending machines. Bethany packed my lunches during that assignment.

Last Thursday Human Resources sponsored a chili cook-off.

Chili in Texas means tomatoes, beans, and burger; chili in New Mexico always has chiles, sometimes has meat, occasionally has tomatoes, and never has beans. Like a number of other things in human experience, different people can use the same word and mean different things.

Employees paid nothing for the chili that the contestants brought in, but the dietitians made cinnamon rolls available for $1. The cafeteria even made a very decent house chili, and served it for free.

Of course I entered my mole (pronounced moe-lay; it relies on a balance between chocolate and tomato). Too spicy for the mild category and too mild for the spicy category, it didn’t win any prizes.  Or maybe because I used chunked turkey instead of beef, and didn’t put any beans in it at all, thus it probably didn’t look like chili as people in Iowa understand the word.  I may have to change my recipe.

 

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