meal, in hopes that he will eat it in the interval, is simply to prevent him from taking food at all. I have known patients literally incapacitated from taking one article of food after another by this piece of ignorance. Let the food come at the right time and be taken away, eaten or uneaten, at the right time; but never let the patient have 'something always standing' by him, if you don't wish to disgust him with everything."
In a case of infectious fever, all remains of food should at once be burnt, and on no account eaten by another person. The nurse should not take her meals in the sick-room.
For a convalescent the food should be as varied as possible. In the monotonous existence of the sick-room small events appear great.
For invalids, never make a large quantity of one thing, as they seldom require much at a time. Because a patient once likes a food, do not repeat it till he is tired of its very name.
If the food may not be varied, the mode of serving may. A stray flower, or a new patterned plate, is better than no variety at all. Let everything look as tempting as possible. Have a clean tray-cloth laid smoothly over the tray; let the spoons, tumblers, cups and saucers, etc., be very clean and bright. Gruel served in a tumbler is more appetising than when served in a basin, or cup and saucer. Do not put a very little broth in the bottom of a very large basin. Let all kitchen utensils used in the preparation of invalid's cookery be scrupulously clean; if this is not the case, a disagreeable flavour may be imparted to the preparation, which flavour may disgust and prevent the patient from partaking of the refreshment when brought to him or her. Invalids notice flavour more than people in health. It is generally better to cook in earthenware, glass or china, than in metal.
In Miss Nightingale's admirable "Notes on Nursing," she says: "You cannot be too careful as to quality in sick diet. A nurse should never put before a patient milk that is sour, meat or soup that is turned, an egg that is bad, or vegetables underdone." Yet often, she says, she has seen these things brought in to the sick, in a state perfectly perceptible to every nose or eye except the nurse's. It is here that the clever nurse appears—she will not bring the peccant article; but, not to disappoint the patient, she will whip up something else in a few minutes. Remember that sick cookery should half do the work of your poor patient's weak digestion. She goes on to caution nurses by saying: "Take care not to spill into your patient's saucer; in other words, take care that the outside bottom rim of his cup shall be quite dry and clean. If every time he lifts his cup to his lips he has to carry the saucer with it, or else to drop the liquid upon and to soil his sheet, or bedgown or pillow, or, if he is sitting up, his dress, you have no idea what a difference this minute want of care on your part makes to his comfort, and even to his willingness for food."
Crumbs are great enemies to the patient's comfort, and even with the