Dining in the dark a ‘different’ experience

Clu29dining5.jpg Blind tasting. . . Lawrence Lions members (from left) Lisa Riddle, Wendy Haywood and Alison Joyce enjoy their meal at the dining in the dark fund raiser last week. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE


Just what does food taste like when you cannot see it?
Lawrence Lions member Alison Joyce said the idea was a fun and challenging experience as she took part in the first ‘‘dining in the dark’’ fundraiser held by the South Otago Community Committee for Blind Low Vision New Zealand, last week.
‘‘When we look at something on a plate we often say ‘that will taste good’ as we usually eat with our eyes, but here we were tasting without seeing, which was quite a different experience because we had to taste the food first to discover what was on our plate.
‘‘There were lots of empty forks going into our mouths, you had to be much more deliberate in what you were doing which made it quite an experience.’’
Fellow Lawrence Lions member Wendy Haywood added that the salt and pepper shakers were often mistaken and resulted in some funny tasting soup.
Thirty›four diners donned masks at the Balclutha Town and Country Club before the first course of the three›course meal was served.
For the rest of the evening paper napkins were in strong demand as diners spilled their soup, their main course and their dessert on themselves.
However, many quickly got the hang of it, finding the plate, scooping something up with the fork or spoon, lifting it to their nose and sniffing it, then chewing on it to discover what it was, all with a lot of fun and laughter.
Even the call of nature or a drinks refill had to be achieved in the dark — albeit with a sighted assistant.
‘‘Welcome to my world,’’ said attending vision impaired community club member Doug Keen.
‘‘I face this every day, but it was a fun evening for all who came as I listened to their comments and how they solved the problem of feeding themselves without knowing what was in front of them.’’
A scary experience for some was buying drinks as notes have no braille on them and they had to trust they were not being taken advantage of.
Balclutha Lions club member Kaye Jopson described the dinner as a very interesting experience.
‘‘Not knowing what you are eating or where the food is on the plate was quite hard — you had to find it.
‘‘You don’t know what you are eating and trying to find it with the fork or even get it on the fork was really hard.
‘‘You had to use the fork in a different way, plus everything sounded so much louder. As you are trying to eat what you can’t see, it was a very different experience.’’
South Otago Community Committee president Margaret Keen said the group was very pleased with the turnout.
‘‘It was a fantastic event and we are very grateful for all who attended,’’ she said.
‘‘The funniest thing we saw there were the messes on the tables, there was so much food spread around rather than being eaten.
‘‘It was a success and we have already had lots of requests to host another evening, which is a great way to raise funds to support blind sporting activities in the South Otago community.’’

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