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Monday, January 10, 2005

Things that go chomp in the night

As any self-respecting foodie will tell you, the gastronomic experience makes use of all five senses. Apart from mere visual presentation, there are wafting promises, contrasting textures, sounds of crunching vs slurping and of course, the delicate palate of taste itself.

But how often do you take these things for granted? Gobbled half your lunch whilst barely pausing for breath... munched distractedly on a juicy sweet crisp apple...

So the thought of Dining in the Dark is an interesting one. Eating in pure darkness. No sight to presume tastes and textures. No absent-minded forkfuls shoved into mouths. When's the last time you closed your eyes mid-mouthful--concentrating, envisioning, savouring, smiling?

R sent me a link to this latest international craze which hits Sydney tomorrow. From the 11th to the 29th of January, Sydneysiders can choose to eat in pitch darkness, led to their tables by waiters wearing night-vision goggles.


Photo: Paul Harris

The concept began in 1999 at the Blind Cow Restaurant in Switzerland. Its owner and originator, the blind Rev. Jorge Spielman, used to host dinner parties at his house and blindfold his guests. This, he said, enabled them to momentarily experience and appreciate a blind person's world. In addition, the restaurant also enabled him to provide jobs for blind workers.

The effect on diners is apparently heightened conversational and gastronomic concentration. Without visual distractions, diners talked more, tasted more critically and felt more comfortable eating with their fingers.

Since then, the concept has exploded internationally with similarly-themed restaurants opening in Munich, Cologne, Paris and even Melbourne.

The Sydney version will be held at the Oaks Hyde Park Plaza on College Street. The $55 fee includes two courses and a glass of champagne.

I'm not sure if I'll be heading over, but it's a brilliant idea no doubt. Maybe next time I'll just have dinner with all the lights out...

EDIT: We did end up dining in the dark.
Click here to read all about it and check out the photos.

7 comments - Add some comment love

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posted by Helen (AugustusGloop) on 1/10/2005 09:56:00 pm


7 Comments:

  • At 1/11/2005 5:05 am, Blogger megwoo said…

    This is so crazy and great! I hope you go, just so I can read all about it...

    I'm linking to your article from my site--hope that's okay with you (let me know if it's not). Love your site!

     
  • At 1/11/2005 9:36 am, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi MW - Thanks for stopping by and thanks for putting a link to my article on your blog! Of course it's ok--any new traffic is always welcomed! :)

    I'm not sure if I'll be slurping in darkness, but if I do, rest assured I will be sharing the experience with you all. But then I'd really have to work on describing the dishes since I won't be able to provide photos... argh... now that'd be a challenge...

     
  • At 1/11/2005 3:00 pm, Blogger Veruca Salt said…

    You go girl! but not my cup of tea. Even in fancy places, I still like to be able to pick up food with my fingers. This would be harder to do if I could not see what it was that I was eating. This style of eating would not satisfy my voyeuristic needs

     
  • At 1/11/2005 7:34 pm, Blogger Reid said…

    Hi Augustus Gloop,

    You should go! It sounds like fun. Then maybe you can bring a spotlight with you to take pictures of the food! It would be cool to see how the photos would turn out, especially if you took them while blindfolded....hmmm, maybe I can try that too sometime, just for kicks of course. =P

     
  • At 1/12/2005 1:05 pm, Blogger R said…

    Hello Augustusgloop,

    Things are crazy at this end, but if you go (gulp), I'll go!

    Should be a scream!

     
  • At 1/12/2005 8:18 pm, Blogger pinkcocoa said…

    This sounds so interesting! Now this is what we call a blnid date ;-) Ok, stupid jokes here. Anyway, you have to go and tell us about it!

     
  • At 1/12/2005 11:21 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Ok, the people have spoken! R and I are going!Hi Veruca Salt - This kind of wackiness is right up my alley! I'm curious to discover how voyeurism does affect appetite, taste and overall dining experience. What does a carrot really taste like? And I'm not ruling out using my fingers either!

    Hi Reid - What can I say... I didn't require much convincing. I'm pretty sure all light sources will be banned. You don't need to be blindfolded--the whole room is pitch black! My photography skills won't be tested this time but my gastronomic memory and vocabulary definitely will be!

    Hi R - You rock! Just don't scream with your mouth full!

    Hi pinkcocoa - I can never resist a dining request! And I've heard that they have used Dining in the Dark before for blind dates. Each date enters through a different door and if you liked your dinner conversation and felt you clicked, you can both adjourn to a lit room next door after the meal to check each other out!

    I also read about a practical joke 5 hubbies pulled on their wives. They all agreed to swap seats and then kiss the woman in front of them. Apparently some wives complained immediately and some didn't at all!

     

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