I've mentioned John before. He's the 85-odd man who has a problem with Christians and Bingo and who thinks I must be old.
Most of the residents, just like you and I, have a list of foods they won't touch. Me, I'm pretty ordinary. I'll eat pretty much anything except oysters, calamari and brains. (I'm sure there are weirder things you could stick in front of me that I would reject, but you get the idea.)
Most residents only have things like Brussels Sprouts on that "will not eat" list, but John appears to have a strange fear of the exotic. I'm not talking escargot here, I'm talking anything he can't immediately identify. This makes things quite interesting when it comes to all our creative casseroles as in the Spanish Chicken episode.
All the staff know that you never, ever put tartare sauce on his dish if we're having fish. It's like unleashing a floodgate of anger. Apparently John never had it as a youngun, because if he's not familiar with the food "you can take it away and swim in it". Similarly rejected items are anything containing curry that isn't a typical pussy-English excuse for curry, and any dessert not served the way it has been for 50 years. For instance, sago pudding MUST have cream (never custard or fruit). Custard is ok with fruit, however. But you may not have ice cream with fruit. There are rules. I think the rules only exist in John's head, but far be it from me to dare break them.
We are expected to take the following days' orders at lunchtime. Occasionally a resident has gone out for the day and their order is missed. We're supposed to chase them up later on to get their order, but that's a pain in the ass. So sometimes, if we know them reasonably well, we'll know which foods they like and we can just do the order for them. Most of them are ok with that.
I was working with Alison one morning when I realised John didn't have an order for lunch, and I wondered aloud what he would like, asking what was for lunch. The options that day were Veal Cordon Bleu or Navarin of Lamb (aka Lamb Casserole). She said, "Don't bother asking. He'll have the Lamb Casserole." He usually turns casserole down, but I wrote what she said. After all, I didn't want to go and ask.
When he showed up for lunch, I felt bad, so I offered him the choice. He looked at me in disgust. "What the hell's that?" he asked, referring to the Veal Cordon Bleu. Before I had a chance to explain, he said, "Don't put that rubbish near me. I want the casserole."
I met Alison in the kitchen and she began to laugh. She said, "He won't eat anything that doesn't sound like food." That was something I had to stand there and try to understand for a minute or so. What does food sound like? Thank goodness I hadn't offered Navarin of Lamb. (I still don't know what a Navarin was, and maybe I'll never know.)
This guy is so big on ordinary foods like Frankfurts with Mashed Potatoes that I knew there had to be a way to fool him. Call me sick, call me twisted, but the next time that Veal Cordon Bleu was on the menu, I offered him Navarin of Lamb or the Ham and Cheese Veal.
He chose the veal. He said it sounded nice. And he ate it, too.