the bottomline

Stay Away from the Meatloaf
Saturday, November 6, 2021 by Dan Allen

My second home this year has been the hospital — 9–nights dealing with Covid pneumonia and 10, with the colon situation. That’s more than half–a–month. I am very grateful for the care given to me and thankful for the advancement in medicine that kept me alive through a killer pandemic and two surgeries (the last, an emergency one). I’m also appreciative of the way my second home handles their menu. You call–in what you want and when you want it and, providing it is on your restrictive diet–menu, you can have it. Just one word of advice — stay away from the meatloaf.

I love meatloaf and my favorite is that which is made by Vonnie. Cracker Barrel makes a good one, but requires lots of ketchup. There is not enough ketchup at all the international factories of the Pittsburgh, PA–based Heinz Company to camouflage the taste of hospital meatloaf. How can I say this delicately enough for a mixed audience? Es malo! C'est mauvais! And from Heinz’s ancestral country (providing they immigrated from German) Es ist schlecht! It’s bad and disgusting!!! Even the color is off —kind of light grayish. Nothing could mask the taste or appearance.

On a British Airways flight to India, via London, we were served sausage and eggs for breakfast. I was excited about this western meal after having experienced South Asian food on the last trip. But when the meal came, the sausage was white. I had never seen white sausage. I don’t remember how it tasted, but I was hungry so I’m sure I ate it with ketchup. And I was hungry for meatloaf in the hospital, but only took a few bites.

One of our friends, a retired nurse in another state, heard of my experience and even identified the color of what it might be. Apparently, all hospitals make the same meatloaf or there is a warehouse at an undisclosed location that forges these loafs and then distributes them. If the place were burned down it would do a great service to humankind, but the smell would be putrid.

Hospitals are generally not known for their culinary delights. I do recall, however, that the privately owned Ephrata Hospital had a fantastic mac & cheese. This was told to me by a patient I was visiting. My parishioner informed me, however, they only serve it one day of the week. Well, I hit the dining room on that day and would go back again if I could remember what day it was. My guess is, it’s the recipe of a Mennonite cook (few people can cook comfort food like the Mennonites). It was to live for (I shouldn’t use “die for” in a hospital setting, just saying). I don’t remember if they had meatloaf. If they did . . . it was probably from that same warehouse.

Everyone’s palate is different. You might be one who likes the hospital meatloaf (or whatever it actually is). 

And tastes, in regards to worship, are different as well. Some like contemporary the best — the more flashing lights, smoke and mirrors, loud guitars and drums the better. Others prefer the involvement that black churches offer — a lot of shouting as the congregation interacts with the pastor as he preaches. Then there are those who are, should we say: stayed. They like an orderly service as dictated by the bulletin — stand when the asterisk indicates, recite the written prayer or response, sing the old hymns. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose we could say.

The one thing that is missing with the worship wars and debates are that worship is NOT about us . . . it is for God. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name (Psa. 100:4)! We are showing Him His “worth” when we come to church. So really all the peripheral stuff doesn’t matter unless it distracts us from the psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart (Eph. 5:19), the prayers and the preaching of God’s Word.

Not sure where potluck dinners fit in with this unless it’s 1 Cor. 10:31 – So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. BTW: If you invite me and have meatloaf . . . make sure there is plenty of ketchup.


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