Cdnpearly's Blog

Pearl's musings

Enlightened by Dining In The Dark February 10, 2013

I stab at my plate with a fork–uncertain if I captured something, and if so, what is it?…Hoping it’s going to make it to my mouth and not all over my face…_MG_0773

I’m grateful it’s broccoli, and not some fiery hot morsel with a sloppy sauce!

Further exploration had me searching for my glass of wine…praying that my reconnoitering fingers didn’t knock it over during their investigation.

I apply butter to what I trust is a dinner roll…

Tracking down the tasty chicken and attempting to cut it into bite size pieces.

All challenges I experienced at the recent Santa Barbara Dining In The Dark fundraiser for the Foundation Fighting Blindness.

The idea of enjoying a meal in utter darkness has been popular in Europe for some time.  It’s a trend that’s gaining popularity here in North America now as well.  The new haute cuisine offers an opportunity to experience food by focusing on senses other than sight.  Smell, texture, even sound all contribute to a new understanding of food.

Dining In The Dark as a Foundation event invites sighted diners to get a “taste test” (pardon the pun) of  a visually impaired person’s daily experience.  And, enlightening it is!IMG_9566

The Santa Barbara gala was held at the Fess Parker Doubletree.  The dining area was interspersed with ropes and small pieces of tape at intermittent points.  The “head” chair of each table also was marked with tape.IMG_0858

The meal commenced with the lights on.  A beautiful salad was served.  Two guests were honored with the Visionary Award:  Mary Romo and Dr. David Winter.  Both offered inspiring acceptance speeches.  Mary included Meghan in her spotlight moment.  They both have the same disease:  juvenile onset macular degeneration.  Mary has been instrumental in helping us adjust to Meghan’s vision loss.  Through her guidance we have acquired helpful equipment and resources.  She truly deserves this prestigious award.  Meghan was included in the evening’s program, as an example of someone benefiting from the good works of the Foundation.  Click here to see the article.

Kathy Ireland served as one of the Honorary Event Chairs.  What a beautiful, gracious, sincere, authentic, caring woman!  It was thrilling to meet her.  We even had a chance to chat about her Dancing With The Stars experience!

Following the awards, the lights were extinguished.  Our servers (all severely visually impaired, or blind) brought entrees to our tables.  They used the ropes and tapes to orient themselves to the tables and diners.  Impressively, each plate was placed at the exactly correct place!

The room was completely dark–even the exit signs were out (fire marshals were present in the unlikely event of an emergency).  It was an unexpectedly disconcerting feeling.  I knew there were people at my table, but not seeing them was weird!  Conversation was somewhat awkward to start, but eventually we all found it fun to share our challenges and wins!  Most people at my table opted to use their hands.  I guess my mom instilled the knife/fork lesson too well, so I just couldn’t bring myself to use my fingers!  Thus, as described above, I explored my plate with utensils.  I’m not sure that I had as much success as the hand eaters!

IMG_9621After about 20 minutes, the lights went back on again.  We were all amazed to actually see what we had been eating–stuffed chicken breast, roasted carrots, grilled tomatoes, potatoes au gratin and broccoli!  After hasty face and hand wiping, we were ready for tasty dessert.IMG_9603

So for a very brief moment, we had a chance to “see” how others live.  It made an impact, for sure.

If you get a chance to join a Dining In The Dark, I recommend it!  They are held throughout the United States.  You will be enlightened and you will be helping a wonderful organization that is making a difference for many people with retinal disease.

Photos were taken by Madeleine Vite.


11 Responses to “Enlightened by Dining In The Dark”

  1. Thalia Says:

    That sounds like such a wonderful event, Pearl! Next time let me know if ‘outsiders’ are allowed, I would love to attend. And dang, your daughter is such a gorgeous personage! Much love to you and yours, Thalia

  2. craftymamaE Says:

    great work sweet friend!!!!!!!

  3. Lisa Dillon Says:

    What an interesting experience. My encouragement and thoughts go to Meghan — she looks lovely in the photos

  4. Your eyes didn’t adjust at all to the darkness? That must have been quite the experience. I would have ended up with who knows what, all over, who knows where, and I would have been a “hands on” type for sure.. Love to all as usual.

    • cdnpearly Says:

      Jack, our eyes did not adjust at all–I was surprised they didn’t!
      Thanks for checking in…hope you’re surviving snowmageddon 2013!

      • Ha, snowmageddon, I like that, (spell check didn’t) but I did.. We survived quite nicely through this one, although we here in Framingham got one of the highest amounts of snow in the state 30.5 inches we didn’t lose power and the monster snow blower did the job superbly.. How did Meg react to the dinner experience? I’m sure she was nonplussed as is her style.. Great kid you two have there Pearl. Good luck and God bless you all..
        xo back at ya!

      • cdnpearly Says:

        Thanks Jack! Meg thought the whole thing was AWESOME!

  5. BoJo Photo Says:

    Wow! What an awesome event. One of my nicest friends from Great Britain is going blind. My cousin a master craftsman went blind.

    Such an event would put us a little more in touch with what the blind struggle with daily. My heart goes out to them.

    Thanks for supporting such an awesome cause!

    • cdnpearly Says:

      Thanks for the kind feedback! Having a close connection with someone losing their sight has changed my perspective on so many things. I sense you have experienced that too through your cousin and your friend. Perhaps it even enhances your viewpoint as a photographer (and a talented one at that!). Thanks for the comment and the follow!

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