Eating in the Dark

In September of 1999, The Blind Cow, the world's first restaurant in total darkness, opened in Zurich in an old Methodist church building. "Blind Cow" is the German name for the children's game known as Blind Man's Bluffin English. Today there are 18 restaurants all over the world that have adapted the concept.

The primary goal was to create workplaces for blind and visually handicapped people. Today we manage without extra funding. Earning their own money helps people's self-esteem. Another goal is to boost the dialogue between the blind and people who can see. For once they have to swap roles, the blind person becomes the guide of the person who normally sees.

Welcome to the Blind Cow. My name's Anya. May I ask you to form a congo and follow me into the restaurant. Now we move through the first curtain into the the we pass through another curtain to the restaurant. From now on, it will be completely dark, don't be afraid. Here we turn left. Follow the lin you feel on the floor. Now we turn left again. Straight. To the right, we're almost there. Left again, and we've reached the table. Here's the first chair back. Is everyone comfortable in the dark so far? Great, what would you like to drink?

In our restaurant, you make contacts you wouldn't make in daylight. People are tempted to sit down at empty tables. Here we place people at tables with strangers. Here we place people at tables with strangers. Once they come out of the dark, they are usually surprised to see how different their table companion looks from what they've imagined.

It might give a kind of insight into the world of blind people, but to me the restaurant is more about sharpening other senses, the sense of taste for example. Many guests tell us that the red wine tastes a lot more intense in the dark.

The blind cow changes it's menu every week. There is always one meat, one fish, and one vegetarian dish. So our staff know what kind of fish they are serving in the dark, we use different kinds of plates. For example, let's take our main courses: we use a plate with a large plain rim for meat dishes, another one with a ribbed rim for fish, and for vegetarian dishes one with strutted edges. This way our waiters always know what dish they are carrying.

After they have finished their meals, the guests are escorted back to daylight.

"You are more aware of how you eat. You have to remember what food there is on your plate and remember in what section of the plate you find the wild rice, spinach, or fish. Sometimes, you even have to use your fingers."

"It's like waking up in the middle of the night when everything is pitch dark. In the beginning, you have to touch everything to get an idea of the place. The first five minutes are quite strange, but then you get used to it and it's sort of fun."

No comments: