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Today’s topic is dark restaurants and dark dining. First of all, what is “dining”? If you know what a dining room is then you can probably guess what “dining” means. A dining room is the room in your house where you eat, but it’s not the kitchen. It’s a different room. If you’re alone, you might eat in the kitchen because it’s easier or you might eat in the living room while you watch TV. But if you want to serve a big meal because it’s a special occasion or you have lots of visitors, that’s when most people would use the dining room, if they have one. “To dine” is a formal way of saying “to eat” and the dining room is a formal room for eating.
So what is dark dining? Here’s where things get interesting. There are restaurants in North America, Europe and Asia called dark restaurants. People who eat at these restaurants eat in complete darkness. Can you believe that? It sounds strange, I know, but that’s what “dark dining” is. So why would anyone want to do that?
First, let me tell you how dark dining started. The first dark dining event that I could find information about happened in 1997 in Paris, France. These events happened from time to time for years, but the first restaurant to have dark dining every single day of the week was in Switzerland. It was established or started by a blind man named Jorge in 1999. In case you don’t know the word "blind", that means you can’t see. Some people are born blind and some people become blind during their lives. Here’s another good vocabulary word for you: deaf. That means you can’t hear.
So the man who opened the first dark restaurant in Switzerland was blind. After having his friends come to his house and try dark dining, he realized that people really liked it. His friends told him that their senses of taste and smell improved when they couldn’t see. That made the meal taste and smell even more delicious than usual. So Jorge opened a dark restaurant because he wanted people who were not blind to experience what it’s like to be blind. In particular, he wanted people to experience food and eating the way blind people do.
I’ve never been to a restaurant like this, but it sounds really interesting so, of course, I decided to do some research. Here’s what happens when you go to a dark restaurant. There are two ways that these restaurants create darkness. One way is to turn off all of the lights in the area where people eat. If restaurants do this, they also take away people’s electronic devices, like cell phones and cameras, because they want the dining area to be completely dark. The other way is to put a blindfold on everyone. We just talked about the word blind. So what’s a blindfold? That’s a piece of cloth or fabric that you put over your eyes and you usually tie the ends of the cloth together at the back of your head. That way, you can’t see. When you’re wearing a blindfold, you’re blind. So here’s my first question for you guys. If you had to go to a dark restaurant, which would you prefer? Would you want to be in a room that’s totally dark? Or would you want to be blindfolded?
Personally, I think I’d prefer being in a dark room. If you’re blindfolded for the whole meal, that could get uncomfortable. If you’re in a dark room at least there’s nothing on your face. But I do wonder what would happen if there was an emergency in the restaurant. What if everyone had to get out of the restaurant fast because of a fire or something like that. I’m sure that the people who run these restaurants have thought about that. So hopefully there’s a quick way to turn all of the lights on.
I also started thinking about what I would want to eat if I had to eat in total darkness. I mean, how well can you use a knife and fork if you can’t see anything? So with that in mind, I thought that I would probably choose some kind of finger food if I had to eat at a dark restaurant. Ok, really quickly, what’s a finger food? That’s a food that people generally eat with their hands. Here’s another question for you guys. If you were the chef at a dark restaurant, what kind of food would you serve? Would you serve finger foods? What kind of finger foods would you serve? And what other foods can you think of that people could easily eat even if they can’t see?
And the last thing I want to ask you guys is this: If a friend asked you to go with them to a dark restaurant, would you go? I think that it would be interesting to experience a meal the way a blind person does. Personally, I enjoy stepping into someone else’s shoes or walking in someone else’s shoes. Those are common expressions in English, by the way. They both mean the same thing: experiencing life the way someone else does. Walking in another person’s shoes is a great way to understand that person better. I think it would be really interesting to walk in a blind person’s shoes even if it’s just for a few hours.
There’s also a popular theory that I’m curious about. A theory is an idea that people believe is true, but it hasn’t been proven, so it’s not a fact. There’s a theory that if you can’t see then your four other senses become stronger. Or if you can’t hear or can’t smell then your four other senses get stronger. I wonder how true that is. Is it something that happens as soon as you lose one sense? Would I notice a difference in my sense of taste or smell if I ate in complete darkness? Or is that something that takes time. Maybe it takes months or even years for your other senses to become stronger. Or maybe that theory isn't true at all? Who knows?
Well, maybe one day I’ll experience dark dining. I actually thought about trying it at home. That wouldn’t be too hard to do. But I’m pretty sure that my husband would think that I was crazy if he saw me eating with a blindfold on. So maybe I’ll just wait until I can visit one of these dark restaurants.
Ok, guys. That’s it for today. Don’t forget to answer the questions that I asked earlier:
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