Friday, June 21, 2013

Dinner in the dark

2 weeks ago today I experienced something I NEVER thought I would. It was an experience that is much more than just a blog entry.. But I will try my best to paint the picture for you :)

It was Friday night and I had my training for my new job from 8-10pm.  As you might know by now... Carles is a planner. A phenomenal one at that. As I am getting off he is texting me and telling me that I have to hurry! We have reservations at 10:15 and we can't be late. 

I meet him down the road from our house and he is hurrying me telling us we need to get there or else we cannot go in. I ask what it is and he responds its dinner and something else too. Okay well we arrive to a place that looks like a normal restaurant from the outside. However the name of it was not Spanish nor Catalan and definitely not English-- "Dans le noir?" 

After about 15 minutes inside I find out that we are eating dinner in the dark tonight.  This is a very unique place that is only is Paris, London, New York, and Barcelona.  You have to be right on time because they only have two dinner times every night- 10:15 being the latest.  

You sit at a normal table before going into to the dining room and the hostess talks to you and tells you about the rules as well as gives you a choice of the number of plates you want.  Keep in mind I am in Spain so I am catching bits and pieces of all of this information.. Good thing Carles is almost bilingual :) well actually trilingual- Catalan first, Spanish, then English! 

As we are waiting I am so excited and anxious to see how it will be.  You do not get to choose the food they give you you just say how many plates you want and how many drinks as well.  The whole time I am thinking about what it will look like inside.. A very dark room with tiny tea light candles? Maybe completely dark with little lights on the floor to be able to see where you are sitting? Maybe a tiny light on your table to see your plate? Who knows! We were very excited and I had no idea what to expect once we went inside.  

Soon it was our turn to line up at the door.  Before going in another hostess had a conversation with us.  This time they told us all of the servers are blind. Wow. This is amazing.. They told us if we needed anything (another drink, or the restroom) you have to shout your servers name (Jose!) and we will come get you.. You are not allowed to get up on your own because it will cause mayhem in the room.  Okay now I think is when I start to get a little bit nervous.  

We are just a few minutes from entering the room when our server Jose comes out to greet us.  The hostess lines us up. We are going in with another couple as well as sitting with another couple so they have to put us in a special order.  It was the lady first, then behind her was Carles, behind him was the man, and then me.  You have to grab ahold of the persons shoulder in front of you and they ask us one more time if we are ready.. And then.. We're off.

We start walking into the room.  It is 100 percent absolutely PITCH BLACK.  I can not see literally ANYTHING.  Because I was the last one, I kept turning around and seeing a tiny tiny little sliver of light from the entrance. Then it disappeared. Okay shit. I'm getting a little nervous at this point.. Here I am holding on to some big strange unfamiliar Spanish man in the pitch black- absolutely no idea where I am.  In the meantime Jose is leading us to our table giving us small little directions as to "right, left, here's a corner" etc.  but... Of course in Spanish.  At this point I think I forgot any Spanish that I ever knew.  Suddenly the big strange unfamiliar Spanish man stops and I hear the others keep walking ahead.  Ummmm? If you know me you can only imagine the panic that started to set in at this point.  I heard Carles' voice getting farther and farther away.. I'm sure he was literally only like 5 feet in front of me but now it seriously felt like 5 miles. I was scared.  "Carles?!" As I'm still standing now in the pitch black holding onto the Spanish guy. "Yes Jamie I'm right here.. I'm sitting down now!" Meanwhile Jose comes to me and tells me to hold into the wall and him and the Spanish man exchange some words and they left.  Now you can't imagine the panic I am feeling standing in the complete black holding onto a wall by myself with no one around speaking my language.  It took a lot in me to not pass out or freak out at this point.  Shortly, Jose comes back to fetch me and leads me to my table where I sit down and reach for Carles' hands as if they were Gods hands.. I had never been so relieved.  So now I'm sitting in the complete black at a table with Carles and a random lady... Come to find out the big Spanish man in front of me took it harder than I did and had to get escorted out because he is claustrophobic and was about to have an attack.  

Okay now that the traumatic entrance is over I'm still freaked out but doing better holding on to someone familiar, speaking my language, and sitting down.  Buuuut I can tell I'm still not so sure about this whole dinner in the dark thing.  Carles could feel my nervousness and also my sweaty hands and kept telling me that we could leave if I wanted he didn't want me to be uncomfortable.  I had thoughts in my head 1 second that I was fine and we were just eating dinner in the dark and everything was okay and the next second it was get me out of here I feel like I can't breathe why would anyone want to do this. After about 15 minutes of telling myself to chill out I finally decided I wanted to stay and I would be fine. 

The first course came and it was an experience to say the least.  You obviously don't even bother with your fork or knife and dig right in with your hands.  Or should I say hand (singular) because with my right hand I was holding Carles hand for dear life.  Then they bring your first glass of wine.  This was really tricky now because I had a glass of wine in one hand Carles hand in the other and how was I supposed to eat?  It was tough because I felt like I would rather chug the wine at this point but I knew that wouldn't be the best option.  Alternating between the wine and the food my left hand sure got good exercise this evening.  It was so crazy because even after sitting there for awhile it wasn't like your eyes adjusted to anything.. It was blacker than black and I couldn't see something an inch in front of my face.  

Shortly after the first course we for the main course and then finally the dessert. All of the food was very good as was the rest of the experience. After you are finished you go back into the light and sit with all the other people that ate during the same time as you and you play a guessing game with the hostesses as to what you just ate and then they show you am actually picture of what your plates looked like.  

 It was honestly one of the best dining experiences I have had (even with all the panic in the beginning) because not only do you do something way out of your comfort zone.. But you realize how fortunate you are to be able to leave that pitch black room and open your eyes and see everything when you are finished... Unlike the waiters.  It truly allows you to put yourself in the shoes of a blind person which is something you don't think about doing on a daily basis.  I am SO thankful that Carlos took me and highly recommend it to anyone in the areas of the country where the restaurants are available (that I listed above!) 

Check out the link for more information :)

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