Last night dinner at Dunkel Restaurant, a Mitte establishment in which you are led by a blind waiter into a large dining room wholly devoid of light, and spend the next few hours guided only by your fingers, ears and taste buds.
I’ve experienced complete darkness just once, and only for a moment, in the North Korean tunnels in Korea’s DMZ as a child. The tour guideÂ turned off his light for just a moment, and I remember a darkness deeper than any midnight.
Last night, my eyes fought to make sense of their sudden irrelevance, inventing a false canopy of glowing light above us. I held my hand an inch in front of my face, and thought I could tell a difference in the quality of absolute darkness; but this was probably an illusion, triggered by other sensations.
Sound became more important. We could guess at the scale of the room from the conversations around us. We quickly learned how to eat by touch. Messy on the fingers, but of course we had to feel our food. A kiss in the dark was rich and sensous, bereft of distractions.
Taste itself seemed the sense least affected. The meal was good but not great, with asparagus salad, a creamy tomato soup, saltimbanco that was more pork chop than anything else. The truism about senses being heightened in the dark I think may be true — but perhaps only for those senses that compensate for sight’s ability to orient us spatially in the world.