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On Eleven Twelve Thirteen, We Dine on Food Unseen

This weekend, I want you to try something.  When you sit down to eat a meal (it can be any meal– breakfast, lunch or dinner) don’t look down at your plate and decide what to eat first.  Close your eyes, take your spoon or fork, and pick up the first bite without really seeing what might be on your utensil.  Yes, I know, if you served yourself the plate you’ll already know in advance, but pretend that you don’t (or carefully spin the plate around a few times so that the food isn’t in the same spot as before.) Bring the fork to your mouth, take a bite, and then as you chew, really think about what the food TASTES like.  How many seconds go by before you can identify what you’re eating?  With your eyes closed, does the food taste different?  Are the flavors richer, blander, or the same?   Did it take a few tries before the bite actually made it into your mouth?  Did you give up and use your fingers?

These are some of the questions we’ll be encountering on Tuesday night (11/12/13) at La Petite Grocery restaurant on Magazine Street.  WRBH is holding a fundraiser called A BLIND TASTE, and each guest will be eating the exquisite courses prepared by gifted chef Justin Devillier while wearing blindfolds (and also aprons, because, well, we don’t want you to ruin your nice clothes if you spill.)  Deciding to do a fundraiser blindfolded is more than just a gimmick– for a short period of time sighted people will have the experience of eating a meal as a blind person would, learning how to balance the food so that it makes the journey from plate to lips without landing on the tablecloth, and fully understanding how difficult it can be to handle a knife and fork if you need to cut up too-large pieces.  I’m especially interested to find out if food is actually enhanced without the visuals.  After all, when we are relying only on aromas, flavors, and textures, we have to be more attuned to taste, since distractions like garnishes and fancy presentation are meaningless.    That’s not to say the food won’t be beautiful anyway.   I’ve decided if I ever have to choose a last meal, this would be it.  The appetizers at the reception before the sit down dinner (and we’ll be able to see these) read like a dream: deviled eggs with caviar, blue crab beignets, duck rillette with pimento cheese, and shrimp salad with endive and tarragon, all accompanied by cremant d loire brut NV.  Yes, that’s right, there will be a separate wine with each course!   We bought special “glasses” for the occasion, different sizes of mason jam jars, so that everyone can get a firm grasp on their beverage.  Dinner starts with a salad of chilled roasted beets with local citrus, yogurt and pickled herbs, with a belle ruche rose alongside.  Then comes Louisiana flounder with braised leeks, gnocchi and andouille-clam broth, paired with a cote de rhone blanc.  Next is sweet potato agnolotti (a type of ravioli) with fried chicken and black truffles accompanied by la ciboise grenache-syrah, and to end the dinner courses, there is roasted pork shoulder with lacinato kale, bagna cauda, celery root puree and apple confit along with chateau neuf de pape “le bernardin”.   Lastly, we come to dessert: the ridiculously divine menu promises there will be meyer lemon tart with toasted meringue, satsuma granita and coconut caramel, with muscat beaumes de venise to sip.

Did I mention there’s also an auction?  Up for grabs are some amazing items such as:

A Jazz Fest package, with Jazz Fest tickets, a flag, chairs, sunscreen, and WRBH swag (visors, koozies, an umbrella, and cooler), and a 2013 Congo Square poster

Saints Suite tickets for the game on 12/29 vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, an NFL regulation clear purse, and other Saints goodies

A Blue Dog Print
A pig roast for 25 people (sides included) donated by Stand Up and Snout.
And lastly, a sentimental favorite, the dear old WRBH sign that hung in front for so many years until it was replaced by our gorgeous new sign (so please bid high on this old girl so she doesn’t feel so displaced by the new trophy wife sign.)
    Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Why should I eat my regular everyday boring food with my eyes closed when I can buy tickets to this posh soiree and help WRBH at the same time?”  Well, because there are no tickets left to buy. With only 70 seats, word of mouth insured that they were all sold in record time.   Cruel, I know, to have led you on in this way and then deny you the chance to partake, but with this astonishing response, there will be other dinners in the future, I’m sure.  Until then, practice at home, or even go out to a restaurant and give it a try.  Inhale, taste, focus, enjoy…but don’t forget your apron.

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WRBH 88.3 FM, Radio for the Blind and Print Handicapped, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is the only full-time reading service on the FM dial in the United States. At WRBH, our mission is to turn the printed word into the spoken word so that the blind and print handicapped receive the same ease of access to current information as their sighted peers.

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