Sunday, April 1, 2012

"H" marks the spot

If you have never followed this sign in search of a bite to eat, then you have not been in the company of my uncle Dominic around lunchtime.

Dom likes hospital food. A lot.

Just why he likes hospital food so much is, in my view, one of the great mysteries of our time. Like the pyramids. Or maybe the Kardashians. 

My uncle, you see, knows about good food. His favorite restaurant is my favorite restaurant; his go-to dishes closely mirror my own. Laura, Dominic's devoted wife of 67 years, is a damn fine cook, I'll have you know. So are a lot of the people who surround my uncle on a daily basis.

Nobody in the family has been able to get to the bottom of Dom's peculiar affinity for this dreadful cuisine. Believe me, we've tried. Plenty.

For many years, usually as we sat together in one drab hospital canteen or another, I would ask my uncle the origin of this preposterous preference of his. But I stopped asking him about it a very long time ago. Because nothing the man ever said made the slightest bit of sense to me whatever.

Which should explain my utter lack of surprise when, on an unexpected visit last week, I offered to take Dom to lunch and he chose not one of the many restaurants minutes from his home in Queens but, rather, the below-ground cafeteria in Building 3 at the North Shore University Hospital, many miles away on Long Island.

It is true that we were scheduled to be at the hospital later that day, for what can only be described as some very unpleasant and sad business. But that isn't why my uncle chose to have lunch there. Convenience had nothing to do with it, trust me. He wanted to have lunch in the cafeteria at North Shore because he actually likes the food at every single hospital he has ever stepped foot inside.

"Are you sure you don't want to go to La Villa for some pizza?" I asked as gently as I could manage without appearing to judge. "Or Don Peppe even? You haven't been there in a while, I'll bet. We've got plenty of time, you know. Hours, actually."

Dom thought it over, but only for around eight and a half seconds.

"I think I'd rather see what they're serving over there today," he said, meaning North Shore. "They have very good food there, you know. You'll like it, I'm pretty sure."

And so later on that afternoon Dominic and I sat together and ate pot roast and mashed potatoes, surrounded by hundreds of young hospital staffers who barely noticed the strange culinary visitors in their midst.

When I asked Dominic whether he was enjoying his lunch he pointed to the pot roast and said that it was about as good as any he had ever had.

Which is always and forever good enough for me.


Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Wishing Uncle Dominic the best....he does look like he is enjoying that pot roast!

Charlene Ann Baumbich said...

The goodness and best-ness of life reads between the lines of this story.

Mister Meatball said...

Thank you ladies!

Jean said...

And it looks like he has mastered the use of those plastic utensils. Go Uncle Dominic

Claudia said...

I never knew my Uncle Dominic so it was with great pleasure that I had a glimpse of your charming uncle. Wishing him all good things.

Stacey Snacks said...

This is so funny, I have been to Northshore, and believe me, the food isn't good. Opt for the McDonalds in the lobby (is it still there?).

My husband likes airplane food, so what's that about????