Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dining in the Dark: The Sukkot Experience

There is apparently a bizarre but fascinating experience in restaurant dining entitled "Dining in the Dark."

People pay to be blindfolded, led into pitch-black restaurants, forbidden to use their cell phones or any other device that gives light, and then, while seated, they are served an entire meal in the dark. The dark heightens their other senses and allows them the unique experience of seeing what it is like for those who are blind. Fascinatingly, many of these restaurants have blind waiters. A few have waiters who wear night vision goggles.

Perhaps the most famous of these restaurants is Dans Le Noir, which has branches in both London and Pairs.

For anyone interested in this "dining in the dark" experience, here's a range of articles including those in CBS News and The New York Times.

Anyway, the reason I bring this all up is because of my fantastically fun Sukkos adventures. We were all invited over to someone's house and in the middle of kiddush, all the lights in the sukkah went out. We ended up eating all our food (and this included soup and more) in the dark, with only the candles to aid us. It was so much fun. I don't think I've had that much a long while. And it was especially educational and edifying because my mom started discussing this "Dining in the Dark" experience since apparently Chicago is going to install one of these restaurants downtown; it'll be named "The Black Gem." And I go, "No way, are you for real? They seriously have blind waiters? How does that work?" But apparently it does work and people really do pay for this experience. How crazy and how cool?

And then our host referenced a Gemara which explains that part of the reason that food tastes good is because one is able to see it and we argued dining experiences versus the Oral Law and everything was fantastic.

And then, during dessert, the timer decided to cooperate and we could see one another again. Which was good fun, on the one hand, but I much preferred the darkness. It was so much fun...we should always have Sukkot meals in the dark! People are so entertaining!

How's your Sukkot been thus far?


Floating Reflections said...

Never eaten in a fully dark resturant but whenever I want a really good chat with a friend I will opt for a place of subdued lighting. To me a darkened place is a more intimate place, the conversation often takes a more personal turn and one feels cosier, ofcourse this can lead to... DANGER ;)

rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Great post. My sukkot was really nice so far. Lots of nice meals in the sukka - but alas all had light.

I had never heard of dining in the dark before (except for the Springsteen song) (oops, that would be Dancing In The Dark).

Good Moed!

Anonymous said...

I saw the title of this post and nearly jumped--"hey, that happened to us this shabbos!"

On the second day of Yom Tov, the main lights went off in our succah, leaving only the lit-up oranges festooned in the schach for light. And we were having 14 people over Friday night. Luckily enough, you can move around fires on yom tov...and we had a few hours to prepare. Also luckily enough, we have a stash of column candles in tall glass jars (remnants of a major power outage last winter). So, we spread the canles around the table, and although the lighting was very dim, it wws pleasant enough, and entertaining 14 people in a very dimly-lit succah was a tremendous success.

Your meal sounds a lot more exciting than mine, though!

Scraps said...

That happened to the hosts of one of my meals over yom tov; their timer was on the blink, so we ate by the light of the yom tov licht. Fortunately, they're a big family, so the mother lights a LOT of lights! (They used oil, not candles.) And I think one year, many years ago, we had a situation like that in our sukkah also, and we ate by the light of tealights.

Dining in the Dark sounds cool, I wish there was a kosher restaurant that did that. :)

Anonymous said...

I may be wrong, but I think the Talmud states that it is more difficult to feel full if you cannot see what you have eaten, rather than that the food is less pleasurable. Maybe it's so pleasurable you keep wanting more!!!

cribs said...

That is one crazy idea but I am curious in what I am going to feel dining in the dark. I think I will going to try that one day.