Breakfast from America: The Cleveland Clinic, Ohio
9500 Euclid Avenue
+1 (800) 223-2273
by T.N. Toost
The Cleveland Clinic is ranked as one of the top in the America by the US News and World Report, and is often seen as one of the best in the world. President Obama visited it repeatedly to discuss the healthcare bill; myriad celebrities, Saudi royalty and even Prince Charles have passed through for their medical care. Some of the doctors and staff are internationally famous for their publications, and with this fame brings wealth: walking through the spacious marble hallways, past well-appointed guards, expensive corporate art and well-placed leather sofas, one might be excused for thinking that one was in a 5-star hotel or a private airport.
Scarlet Pumpernickel joined me at the Clinic one cold, cold morning. Girls make the best breakfast partners: if they’re quiet, it’s with the contemplative, distant-eyed silence that one doesn’t take personally, and when they’re talkative they will ramble on at length about nothing of consequence, which is a better accompaniment to a morning meal than orange juice and most types of tea. I got the eggs with cheese, hash browns and turkey sausage (a total of 769 calories), a blueberry muffin (144 - 266 calories) and hazelnut coffee (calories unknown); Scarlet got a dainty container of grits (143 calories). The grits were $1. My meal was much more expensive, but I would have switched with her any day of the week. The eggs were merely warm, and the cheese – packaged, shredded, American – didn’t melt into them, instead settling on almost like a spice. The hash browns were cold and flavorless, requiring salt, pepper and ketchup. The turkey sausage, also cold, tasted as if it had been mixed with plastic and then freezer-burned. The muffin was implausibly both oily and dry, with stale thrown in for good measure. The hazelnut coffee, the highlight of my meal, was merely passable, and that was mostly because it was warm. Scarlet’s grits were ok, but as she explained, “It’s really, really hard to fuck up grits.”
What left me with the worst taste in my mouth was the fact that my meal – a normal American breakfast, if a bit on the small side – ran to just under 1,000 calories. One would think hospitals would be temples of health, and that they would encourage their patients, visitors and employees to eat healthy food – that they would put as much thought into what went into people as they put into the expensive corporate art hanging on the walls. Instead, they serve garbage, and freely admit that it’s garbage – they post the nutritional information next to each item.
We left, walking through a long hallway filled with flat-screen televisions broadcasting the Clinic’s awards, and stopped by the Intercontinental Hotel (one of the poshest in Cleveland and built specifically for the families of wealthy patients). I hope I never have to stay in a hospital. If I do, though, it’ll likely be because of the kind of crap they serve in Cleveland Clinic cafeteria.