2002.09.18 It's OK to spill a little

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about walking along Bean Creek in the dark. A couple of days after that I heard about a new restaurant in Germany where everyone eats in the dark.

I suppose Brad Whitehouse and I could try a midnight picnic along the Bean the next time, but until then, I’ll have to rely on this restaurant report.

Actually, I could find very little about the new German restaurant, but I did read some reports on its predecessor, Blindekuh, that opened three years ago in Zurich, Switzerland.

When I wrote about our walk in the dark without a flashlight, I used that old line about how your other senses take over when sight is gone. It’s true. You start to hear things that would otherwise have been ignored. You pay much more attention to the ground underfoot. You notice the smells of the plants brushing your face.

I didn’t mention anything about heightened taste—no bugs flew into my mouth that night—but that’s one of the concepts behind Zurich’s restaurant, The Blind Cow.

An abandoned church was converted into a restaurant. It’s pitch black inside and most of the staff members are blind. You might think this is one of those gimmicks that isn’t going to work, but you would be quite wrong. I’m not sure how things are going today, but a while back they had a waiting list of four months.

The facility is owned by the Blindlicht Foundation which aims to provide jobs for blind people. The receptionist and most of the kitchen staff have good vision. Everyone else is blind.

Diners are first led into a dimly lit area to adjust for what’s to come. Some people find it too claustrophobic and head out then for another eatery. Guests are instructed not to wander off from tables. Instead, just shout out to a member of the wait staff. You can identify them by the bells jingling from their feet.

Eventually a waitress arrives and instructs one member of the party to place his or her hands on her shoulders. The others in the group do the same to form a train. The waitress then leads the eaters through black curtains into the void.

It’s not merely dark, a reporter wrote in a British newspaper, it’s entirely devoid of light. That’s an important distinction, he says, because usually there’s some shadowy shapes that can be made out. Here there’s absolutely nothing.

Table talk is strained, also, he said, because there’s no body language or eye contact to help out conversation. It no longer matters what you’re wearing, says the man who started the restaurant, it’s just your voice that makes you “visible.” If you don’t talk, he says, you don’t exist.

The menu is fairly simple—no peas or spaghetti, I presume—and eating is messy. One reviewer said that his borscht went well, but most of his dumplings ended up on the table and some of his vegetable went to the floor. Perfect for the kid who hates broccoli.

So is the concept a success? The originators of the idea claim that eating blind makes a person think more about food. You eat more slowly, you sniff the food, you touch it and really savor it.

The reviewer said he didn’t have that experience. It was just a lot sloppier to eat in the dark.

I’ve heard it said that as the gimmicks increase, the quality of the food decreases.

I don’t know if that’s the case at the Blind Cow, but I know what I would like about this place. It’s licking. I would certainly lick my plate after each course and no one would say a word about it.

    – Sept. 18, 2002 
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017