What is it like to eat what you can’t see?
By Craig Allan, Staff Writer
Everyone experiences life through the five senses: see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. However, how would the body react when one of those senses is taken away?
This experience can be seen, or in this case unseen, at the Dark Table restaurant in Vancouver. Dark Table is like any other restaurant in the city but with one key difference: the entire meal is served in pitch-black darkness. What is it like to enter a world of darkness? That is what my friend Jenny and I ventured to find out as we entered the world of the Dark Table.
The most interesting part of the Dark Table experience is the wait staff. It does not take much of an adjustment for them to get used to the restaurant because every person on the wait staff is blind, or partially blind. This adds to the experience because it is like they are shepherding you into a world that they are so familiar with. Our server was a woman named Kugi, who had been blind for many decades and guided us through the restaurant in a single file train.
When it comes to sitting in the dark, it was not what I expected. I thought that we were going to enter the restaurant with the light on, and then they would be turned off after being seated. That was not the case, as we were led into the darkroom with no light of which to glean. Before going to our seats, my friend wanted to use the restroom. I did not think it was a good idea because if I were to list some of the worst places to go to the bathroom, a blind table restaurant consisting of non-lit bathrooms would be top of the list. Thankfully, the bathrooms are adorned with dim lighting. At the table, I could still feel what I was expecting, such as the table and chair, but outside of that I had no idea where I was.
We decided to go for the “Daily Surprise” in which all the foods we were going to eat would be unknown to us until after the meal had been completed. First came the appetizer. From what I felt it seemed to be a baguette cracker with some crab and lemon zest on a bed of vinegar. I was correct, and it was quite good. The next item was going to be harder to surmise as it was an item meant to be eaten with a knife and fork. Though it may seem improper, I decided to feel it with my hands. With my sense of touch, I could feel something crispy, something soft, and something long. Despite missing the food and putting a fork full of nothing in my mouth about a dozen times, I was eventually able to figure out that it was a breaded codfish on a bed of mashed potatoes with green string beans. The only thing I missed was the dill sauce that was on the fish. I felt like I didn’t get a lot of fish with my meal. Then I realized that I had pushed a big hunk of it off of my plate at some point and it was resting next to the plate. The dessert was different for my friend and me as they were the only part of the course that was non-identical. From the immediate taste of coffee, I was able to figure out that it was a tiramisu; my friend had a raspberry cheesecake.
Dark Table is quite an experience for anyone looking to journey onto the wild side of dining. It was the first time in a long time that I was afraid of the dark. In most circumstances, if you are afraid of the dark all you have to do is wait for your eyes to adjust and everything is fine. That did not happen at Dark Table, as the restaurant is so dark that your eyes never adjust. As we left the restaurant after the meal and exited to a bright and sunny day, I found myself appreciating the gift of sight that I have. After three hours of complete darkness, the colours of the world seemed even more beautiful.