Squishy, smooth and cool. That’s how it feels as I bring the food to my mouth. At first, I taste something familiar, but as I query my taste buds for more info, I detect balsamic vinegar and the slightly spongy, creamy flavor of buffalo mozzarella. I’m having something called “Dinner in the Dark,” six courses with wine pairings, and, along with a hundred other guests, I am enjoying my meal blindfolded.
The restaurant, Catharsis (on Calle Ocho in Little Havana), was featured on the Food Network and has been offering these unusual dining experiences for three years. Catharsis’ owner is a psychologist, Dr. Vivian Gonzalez-Diaz, who has much more than a passing interest in a gimmicky concept – she sees spirituality in most everything, including dinner. To have a catharsis (loosely defined as a release of pent-up emotions), she says you need to bring in spirituality. Getting people to connect in a new way, to be mindful of something so ordinary as a Friday night dinner out, is a doorway to more awareness.
When I need to use the bathroom, I raise my hand and a waiter escorts me to the hall, where I am instructed to remove my blindfold. Suddenly, the ladies’ room looks strange, unfamiliar – I see this ordinary space anew and recognize that I often take things so much for granted I forget to really see them. This is a true gift of the evening.