The Restaurant Where People Eat In Total Darkness

Posted: Oct 12, 2020

You may have heard that people eat with their eyes. While that sounds like a recipe for synesthesia - or maybe tastes like synesthesia depending on what type it is – scientific evidence suggests that your eyes do indeed feast on meals. At a 2013 meeting of the American Chemical Society – described by Science Daily as the biggest scientific society on the planet – Ph.D. Terry Acree explained that your eyes can sometimes beat your tongue to the punch, "seeing" flavors of food and drinks you haven't yet tasted. A 2016 review published in Brain and Cognition depicts vision as intertwined with hunger and says it enhances the enjoyment of food.

Such findings raise interesting questions. If your eyes help tell your tongue how tasty a meal is, does being unable to see your food mute its deliciousness? If you dined on a ribeye in a pitch-black room, would every steak knife cut become a stab in the dark as your tongue fumbles about for an apt description of the flavor? Well, it turns out there are restaurants where you can feed that curiosity while remaining in the dark. One such establishment is Dans le Noir? which translates to "in the black." Founded in Paris in 2004 (via ABC), Dans le Noir? turned the "City of Light" into a scene of lightless dining. Its entire waitstaff is blind, and diners eat in utter darkness.

Dans le Noir?'s Paris location marked the first privately owned restaurant where people eat in the dark. It followed in the footsteps of such establishments as Blinde Kuh, which a foundation for the blind launched in Zurich, Switzerland in 2000. Similarly, as the BBC details, the Paul Guinot Foundation for Blind People worked in concert with entrepreneurs Edouard de Broglie and Etienne Boisrond to co-found Dans le Noir?. The founders had a three-pronged objective: to allow diners to experience the world through a blind person's eyes, to shed light on how darkness impacts the experience of eating, and to give gainful employment to blind people in a food service industry that seldom catered to their needs.

By A.C. Grimes
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