I’ve been spending some vacation time with my mother this summer and have enjoyed being able to do some creative cooking. Last night we had lime and tarragon marinated chicken, a cantaloupe salsa and an interesting radish and cherry stir fry with bok choy. I wasn’t sure what the response was going to be towards the radish dish and mom said she’d never made a salsa before but as it turned out, everything was delicious. The evening prompted me to bring up the fact that mom and I had visited a couple of retirement homes last year and the food was a big part of those visits. As is typical, visitors are invited to enjoy a complimentary meal, which we did. Both were high end communities and we found the meals and service to be really good. In one place I had the homemade soup, quiche with salad and fresh blueberries with vanilla ice cream. Being a year ago, I can’t remember everything mom had but I remember one meal was a lovely chicken caesar salad and she had cheesecake for dessert (one of her favorites). There was a small bread basket on the table as well. The dining rooms were bright and airy, the tables were nicely set, staff had uniforms and were familiar with good customer service. Our definition of good customer service included the fact that menus were provided, there was choice, the servers were knowledgeable and attentive during the meal. I’m sure she’d be happy in either one of these communities. Recently, she and her friend went to visit another retirement community. Again, they were guests for a meal. Her description was that “it was OK”. She’d had a shrimp salad. The cost to live in this community was, interestingly enough, the same as the other two we visited last year. If she is going to move into a retirement community, she would want her food to be fresh, somewhat familiar and not too gourmet or fancied up. In two of the locations, I know she would really enjoy the meals regardless of her health and age. In the other location, she would choose it because of her health needs and the food would be nothing special. For now though, mom is in her own home. Meal preparation is shared between her and my sister and both of them are amazing cooks. So, in keeping with good food, today we are going out for lunch for “the best fish and chips around”.
As I get older and watch my mother getting older and potentially moving into one of these retirement communities, more and more I’m appreciating how important the food is. At J. Oulton and Associates, we already take our food very seriously. A great deal of time is spent planning menus and working with suppliers to get the best ingredients and put together meals that are nutritious and we hope delicious. Working with budgets and many regulations, we strive to provide fresh and homemade food as much as possible. Some of our urban homes are very multicultural so it is often a challenge to provide familiar foods for everyone at every meal but we continue to work towards being able to do that. I don’t want our clients to feel the meals are just “OK”. And along this line I’m including a picture of the latte I was served a few days ago. The barista made it with such care and it was so lovely to look at that I was compelled to take a picture. It was nutritious and delicious! Compare that to the latte I had this morning that was nothing special and just “OK”.