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Vision Forward's Dining in the Dark fundraiser offered insight into vision loss

Vision Forward, celebrating 100 years, hosted its Dining In The Dark dinner at Bacchus on Sunday, Nov. 3. Proceeds from the dinner help Vision Forward fund training, therapy and education options for children, youth, adults and seniors impacted by vision loss. 

The dinner was quite the unique experience. Have you ever tried to navigate a situation with your eyes closed? Well, we ate a four-course dinner completely blindfolded.

There was a sea of various sized tables throughout Bacchus and my husband and I were ushered to an intimate table of four. Our dining companions Mellissa and Steve were already seated and, after our introductions, we were instructed to put on our blindfolds. I hadn't really studied the table that closely yet, but did observe there were a lot of tall stemmed glasses. Yikes. I started to feel a bit nervous; I didn’t want to be “that” person who knocks a glass over and creates the domino effect.   

We put on our blindfolds, and the first thing I noticed was that the sounds in the room intensified. I also felt like everything slowed down, and my other senses started to strengthen.  

It was so weird that even though I was blindfolded, I closed my eyes.  Out of the four of us, only Melissa kept her eyes open. 

Our first course was served. I used my fingers to lightly touch the surface of the plated food to try and figure out what it was and how to go about eating it. It was some kind of salad with a chewy protein, crunchy round bits, a veggie that I thought was broccoli and a creamy base. Once we finished this course, we heard clinking on a glass that brought the room to a hush. Our MC Mark Baden encouraged us to guess what the first course was. People threw out many guesses, and it was discovered it was a squid salad with crunchy chickpeas, pickled cauliflower and humus. Yum!

I was delighted by the various textures in each dish. I understand the importance of having texture components in a dish but had never stopped to chew and deliberate on each morsel.  

The second course was butternut ravioli with hazelnuts and after a couple of hit and misses, I got the hang of cutting the pasta and getting it on my fork.

Between each course, a clink of the wine glass would signal us to quiet down and throw our guesses in the ring. There was always a surprise element in each dish that we hadn’t identified.  

The wine kept flowing and we noted that it is important to keep your hands low and move upward slowly. We all did really well with this, and I didn’t hear any glasses break throughout the whole meal.

I smelled the third course before it arrived and felt the sharp steak knife to my right.  I felt the food on my dish with my fingers and determined it was steak and went in for the first cut.  The piece I stabbed and put in my mouth was way too big. I admit I gagged a bit, but it was so delicious, I suffered through it. I took great care to cut smaller pieces from that point forward. Steve mentioned eating kale. Kale? Where’s the kale? The plate seemed so vast that I couldn’t locate all the different elements. In fact, when the server came to clear our dishes, Melissa asked how we had done, if we had all finished what was on our plates. The server said I had the most food left on my plate. What!? That sure doesn’t sound like me. I’m from the clean plate club. Maybe this is a new diet plan to try. Perhaps I should eat each meal blindfolded. When my husband heard that I had food left on my plate, he made a “hmmpf” sound, so I stabbed him with my steak knife!  

Our final course arrived and was a luscious chocolaty dessert — warm, gooey and topped with hazelnut ice-cream. None of us struggled too much with this one.  

This experience reminded me to slow down and participate in life using all my senses. Sight is just one of them and if we only pay attention to what we see, we are missing out on all the textures, smells and sounds that surround us everyday. I challenge us all to take a moment each day, close our eyes and hone in on what else is waiting for us to notice

Director of Underwriting and Partnerships | Radio Milwaukee