What Is Blind Dining?
Have you heard of dining in the dark? Dark dining is eating a meal in the dark or while wearing a blindfold in order to heighten the sense of taste. It is an interesting and exciting new way to experience food.
Blind dining is all the rage right now. Many big cities throughout the world have dark restaurants where the customers are served their food in the dark. However, most of us aren't going to be visiting these places or can't afford their hefty price tags (an average of $100 a person).
So why don't you dine in the dark at home? It is simple and easy to do. It is great for romantic dates, fun for the family, or perfect for a party. Get on board the dark dining trend. Keep reading to find out the how-to’s and make your own plans to dine without the lights.
Why You Should Dine in the Dark
Why in the world would anyone want to eat in the dark? There are many reasons apart from the novelty factor.
- Mainly people want to try it because it is a unique culinary experience. Food tastes very different without visual cues to pair with it. It heightens the senses of taste and smell. Food can be savored more.
- It is a new way to appreciate the taste of food. We eat with our eyes much more than we realize. What we see flavors the taste in a large way. This is why many companies conduct blind taste tests. Consumers buy based on the visual appearance more than the taste. Without being able to see the food, taste becomes the most relevant sense, as it logically should be when it comes to eating.
- Dark dining also gives you an appreciation of your vision. After being without your eyesight and trying to perform simple tasks, you will value your senses more. You will be more aware of what each of our senses does for us. Your perspective will be broadened.
- Eating in the dark enhances the imagination. You must use your mind to envision what the food on your plate looks like. If you don’t know what the food is, you must use your mind and imagination to guess what the food is. In a sense, your imagination becomes your eyesight. You are eating whatever picture of the food your mind creates.
- Meals are one of the top bonding times for people. What better bonding experience could there be than sharing a meal with someone in the dark? You will be enjoying not only food but the entertainment of the situation. It is a great group exercise and a way to get to know the people who are eating with you. Barriers will be lower because everyone will have to concentrate more on the physical aspect of eating.
The main thing you will need to create your own dining-in-the-dark event is the dark.
Most of the servers in dark restaurants either use night vision goggles or are legally blind. Unless you want to go all out and purchase night vision goggles of your own, you will have to use another technique to create the right atmosphere.
The ideal place to have dinner is a space that you can darken nearly completely. If there are windows in the room, think about how to block out lights from outside. You may also want to play dinner on a night when the moon will not be at its brightest. You will also want an area that won’t be damaged by spills and doesn’t have obstacles that could cause guests to trip.
There are a couple of different ways to achieve the dark setting without the guests seeing the food and without someone injuring themselves stumbling in the dark.
- The first method is that the guests can be led into the place and seated blindfolded. The food can be served with minimal lighting so that the server can see without spilling. The server can then turn the lights off completely. The guests can remove the blindfold if the room can be sufficiently darkened.
- Another method is that the food can be placed on the table before the guests enter the room. Someone can then lead the blindfolded guests to the table. The room can be completely darkened then. Blindfolds can be removed, and then meals can begin.
- Blindfolds can be awkward to wear throughout an entire meal. For the comfort of the guests, let them remove the blindfolds once everything and everyone are in place. However, if the room cannot be darkened 100%, guests can continue to wear the blindfolds throughout the whole meal. If this is the case, make sure the blindfolds are comfortable. Try to darken the room as much as possible to cut down on peeking.
Don’t let the guests know what food is being served. It will add to the effect if the guests don't know what they are eating. If you can minimize the smell of the food before the guests are served, it will also keep guests from guessing the food too easily.
Ensure guests that the experience may be strange at first, but if they stay relaxed, they will grow accustomed to being without their sight quickly. If a guest becomes too uncomfortable, lead the guest out of the room. Sensory dining should be fun, not scarring. Most people will enjoy blind dining, though, and appreciate the opportunity to eat in an exciting new way.
- The great thing about dining in the dark at home, as opposed to fancy blind dining restaurants, is that the food doesn’t have to be a fancy (and expensive) gourmet food. It can be as simple as you want. Dark restaurant chefs even recommend keeping the flavors basic so that guests can figure out what they are eating.
- Eating blind means guests may have a difficult time getting their food onto the utensil, and into their mouth, so you will want to serve easy-to-eat, non-messy food. It doesn’t have to be bland food, but you probably don’t want to serve spaghetti or anything else with a runny sauce.
- Keep in mind that guests may have to use their hands to feel where the food is on their plate. So, you don't want something that can be guessed by its feel or shape.
- Serve food that either does not need to be cut or has been cut prior to serving. It’s hard enough to eat in the dark; trying to cut a piece of meat would be frustrating and dangerous in the dark.
- You don’t even have to serve a full meal. You could serve just dessert or even small pieces of food to sample.
- Consider giving your guests straws to use in their drinks to cut down on spills. Don’t pour too much into the glasses.
- Save some of the meal so that your guests can see what they ate when the meal is finished. The final reveal may be a big surprise for some. Fish and chicken can taste similar depending on how it is cooked. Vegetables and fruits with similar textures can be tricky to figure out. For instance, mashed cauliflower can seem very similar to mashed potatoes in the dark.
Dark Dining Menu Ideas
Pasta with Chicken
Bread and Cheese
Grilled Fish with Veggies
Stir Fry with Steak
Pork Chops with Potatoes
Key Lime Pie
Romantic Sensory Dinner Date
Dining in the dark is perfect for a date. Picture it—a romantic dinner for two without the candles. Sitting next to each other, accidentally brushing against your date is inevitable. The lights are already out, so the atmosphere is perfect to get even cozier.
Cook a meal and serve it to your significant other. Or have someone else serve both you and your date. If you want a simpler event, you can just blindfold your date and feed him or her fruit or bits of dessert.
Dark dinners are great for any stage of romance. Make a blind date a real blind meal. You can get to know your date by his or her reaction to the dark dinner. Blind dinners are also a good way to rekindle the romantic embers for couples who have been together awhile.
However you plan it, a sensory dinner is a pleasant way to introduce or reawaken chemistry between two people.
Sensory Dining Fun for the Family
Any sort of novelty with food is an instant attention grabber for kids. Most kids will love to participate in sensory dining. They will think of it as a fun new way to eat.
It is also a great learning experience for them. They can challenge their senses as well as their perspective of the world. If they learn from an early age the difficulty that people with disabilities face on a daily basis, it can help your children to become more compassionate people.
- The food should be simple for young kids because they are less likely to be able to guess what the food is.
- Having a blind dinner might be a way to get picky eaters to try new foods. Some kids are notorious for taking one look at a food and declaring, “I don’t like that.” If they can’t use their eyes, they will have to resort to actually tasting the food before deciding whether or not they like it. Dark dinners are a way to get kids to stop eating just with their eyes.
- If you are worried about how the kids will do, start off with a small blindfolded taste test. If your children do well with it, plan a full dark dinner for them. If your child is especially scared of the dark, this might be the best way to begin.
Dark Dining Parties
Hosting a dark dinner is a good way to ensure that your party is more memorable and unique than most dinner parties. The only cost you will have is the cost of the food. So it can be an inexpensive and fun party theme.
- Blind dinners are often held as fundraisers. They are an interesting way to raise awareness for disability causes.
- Many retreats and corporate trainings also use dark dinners as an icebreaker activity. It is a way for coworkers to bond with each other in a relatively non-intimidating way.
- You can host a dark dinner with friends just for fun. Prepare a meal for them and serve it to them in the dark.
- Make the dinner into a game to see who can figure out what the food is first. Giving everyone small samples of many different types of food is a way to make the game more elaborate. See who can guess the most foods correctly. Or see who can guess the food based just on smell.
Enjoy the cool trend without having to make reservations and putting a big dent in your wallet. Now you know how to create a dinner in the dark at home. So start planning your own sensory event and create a unique meal that is sure to be a big hit.
Get together a group of friends, a special date, or surprise the kids. Grab a blindfold and a fork, and have fun savoring flavors in the dark.
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