There is a queue to enter the hospital dining room. While I wait, a stretcher crosses the corridor carrying a man, with whom he talks about soccer. The wait lasts about three minutes, in which I see pass waiters and waitresses dressed in black, taking to the tables dishes that not only look great, but also smell very, very well even before entering. It is not a science fiction film or the utopia of any companion of a sick relative: it is a real restaurant, it is called Papila and it is in the Delfos hospital in Barcelona.

Behind this marvel are Carmen Martí -with training in hospitality- and her sister Alejandra, lawyer. Two restless spirits who were already at the forefront of projects such as Santa Tecla -a multifunctional space that serves to make presentations, sales for a specific period of time and many other things- and, for three months, also from Papila. The restaurant with  vendor relationship management software that breaks the schemes of the hospital cafeterias began to take shape when, in March 2016, the person who took the dining room of the Delfos HospitalHe retired and they offered to manage the space, which had its own kitchen and everything necessary to prepare food with all the letters. “And that’s when we decided to go against the world and prepare ourselves not only the menu, but also the potato and onion tortillas or the sandwiches we offer throughout the day, as well as several of the desserts,” says Carmen, most visible face of the project (and its head of room).

In addition to the dining room there is a take-away area where at any time between 8 in the morning and 22 you can eat a vegetable sandwich – “we also make them, and here they go flying,” says Carmen-, the sandwiches and the tortilla Above mentioned, a creamy cheese cake with biscuit base (yes, yes, homemade), yogurt and different snacks. “This is what you can eat all day, but as at night there is a lot of demand, we will start offering dinner service, in menu format and also on demand”.

Now you will be asking the million dollar question, how can it be that no concessions go into caterings with well precooked and fifth chuchurresca range flavored with absolutely nothing in this equation? “This is possible because this is a hospital fifty years ago and independent capital, the few that has not been absorbed by any large health group, which gives absolute freedom and ability to make their own decisions,” reflects Marti.

If someone thinks that this translates into exorbitant prices, make a mistake: the menu costs 10.50 with some optional extras: three euros for a fresh bream or a steak – “we put them last week and we had to leave them because they ask us to mucho “, chiva Martí- and two for the most elaborate homemade desserts. A tortilla of potatoes-really-with bread costs four, a price very similar, if not lower, than what you would pay in the same circumstances for a mazacote with the taste and texture of the porexpan if it was provided by a catering company.

As soon as I discovered the existence of this rare avis of good food in a medical center, I could not help but think of David Monaguillo , chef, disseminator and gastronomic consultant who lived in the first person the miseries of the darkest side of it. A fact that denounced with humor from the twitter account HospEATal , and that led me to inform him of the existence of Papila. “The first reaction to discovering it was one of disbelief” confesses Monaguillo recovering from the shock. “Little by little, a certain sense of liberation was coming, for the people who can access this service, I hope the case will be founded and each one will be less, those who have carte blanche to traffic with the miseries of the people.”

It is not a coincidence that the pre-cooked meals and the buffet are the order of the day in these cases: managing a hospital restaurant is very different from doing it on the street, and Carmen says she is learning a lot from this experience. “You have to have a lot of psychology, both with the companions and with the doctors: the people come with haste and quite stressed, and at the time of the food all at the same time. You have to be quick, decisive and have a lot of empathy and a left hand when you have to propose someone, for example, if you do not mind sharing a table with another person because everything is full. ” The Martí sisters do not rule out using everything they have learned in similar future projects, “but when Papila is more filmed, it is still a very young project and we surely have many things to improve”, they reflect.

Of course, having this marvel at hand the black goat is flying, and there are few who ask for food to take and two in two, we assume that to share it with their families, patients with non-restrictive diets. “On Christmas Day an entire family came to eat to keep company with someone who was hospitalized. Things like this give a lot of sense to the project, “Carmen tells us smiling, while ensuring that by sharing the day to day with the caregivers in the dining room links are created. “The caregiver is the great forgotten, and we want to be the ones who take care of him and make sure he does not get sick.”

“The menu is designed based on seasonal products, and thinking about the entire spectrum of tastes. We also thought it important to differentiate the food of the patients from that of the relatives, who are not sick. Turn the moment of the meal into a quiet experience and that you can enjoy, to which you want to bring a companion to chat and have a pleasant moment. ” The interior design is also directly focused on this: the light is warm, as the color of the walls, the chairs are comfortable and there is a television, a sofa and some armchairs in the corner, accompanied by a low table that invites you to take quietly a coffee or some appetizer olives. “All the tables and auxiliary furniture are modular, and allow us to transform the space according to the needs of our customers,

At this point, I suppose you have already asked yourself if managing the restaurant so the numbers come out. The answer is a resounding “yes”: by very majas and aware of the needs of the caretakers who are the Marti sisters are not an NGO, and Carmen says that “it is only a matter of optimizing resources, offering a good service and not taking advantage of having a captive client. “” You just have to choose your priorities, and decide how you want to do things. ” Little more to add, except that I hope there are more people who think about caring for those who care. Because, at a given moment, caregivers can be everyone.

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