A blindfold is not a barrier - it is a gateway to a different set of senses.
Spring is all about waking from "winter hibernation" and starting to be active again. Of course, one is active also during wintertime, but in spring one gets one's energy in a completely different way, thanks mainly to the increasing amount of light there is. As you probably all know, Finland and therefore even Helsinki, belongs to the countries which have varying lengths of daytime, depending on the season. Right now, we have about 14 hours of light, and this number is constantly increasing. For me spring also means trying new things and challenging myself, hence the topic of this blog post.
Some time ago I got the rare chance to try a new food experience in Helsinki called Dinner in the Dark, operated by restaurant Cantina West in co-operation with Activity Gifts. The concept itself isn't that new, I know it exists in many cities worldwide, but now it's available in Helsinki for the first time!
As I've mentioned on my work blog, the concept involves treats prepared by skillful chefs, but interestingly enough served in pitch dark. A representative of the Helsinki and Uusimaa Association for Visually Impaired joins the dinner and tells about his/her everyday life. One euro of each dinner goes to supporting the work of the association.
The biggest offering of the dinner was that I understood the meaning of my senses and heard about the everyday life of a person who is visually impaired. When I stepped into Cantina West, I took the stairs down to the cellar level. At this point, I put on an apron and blindfold in the form of a sleep mask and stepped blindfolded into the dining room where the waiters functioned as my help throughout the dinner. The idea of the dinner was to awaken my other senses since I couldn’t see so that I would go through a new kind of food experience.
Blindfolded and wearing an apron I marched with the other diners to the dining room where the waiters helped me find my place and get seated. When all the diners were seated at the table, I was given three objects and through a game of guessing, I got used to being in the dark while nerve calming music is played in the background. Once used to the pitch dark, I was allowed to take off your blindfold because the dining room was completely darkened. The only glimpse of light that I could see in the dining room came from the night vision binoculars that the waiters were wearing.
The dinner consisted of a four course surprise menu that could be eaten by hand or with cutlery. The waiter always informed me of when he brought me something to eat with a soft voice and a tap on the shoulder. The table conversation turned into a guessing game each time that a dish was served. There were also three glasses of a surprise beverage included in the dinner. Next to the place setting there was a hand towel with which one could cleanse one’s hands after the dinner.
During the dinner, it was very interesting to notice how dependent I am of my sense of sight. In the dark distances were distorted and time flew – 45 minutes seemed like 10. At first I was frightened and did not want to move much, but with time I did get used to the darkness. However, my eyes kept on trying to find some light in the dining room all the time.
When the two-hour-long dinner was finished, a candle was brought into the room and I got used to light again – first everything looked grainy, almost like a random dot pattern of static or noise displayed when no transmission signal is obtained by the antenna receiver of a television.
When I then headed out to the city center of Helsinki again, I couldn't help but notice all the noise there was. I'm really thankful for this experience because I definately pay more attention to the taste of food nowadays and I learned to better appreciate my sense of sight. Since I do have reading glasses, I feel that I am out of all my senses most keen to my sense of sight because I know how it feels to have a weaker sight in one eye.
Have you ever tried eating in the dark? Would you like to? Would you dare to? It's quite easy to realize also at home!