2011 Taste of Perkins

When you eat your food without seeing it, the textures and the flavors become magnified. You can smell all the different nuances, taste the tang and the tart, the cool and the creamy, the zing and the zest. It is exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. You’ll keep trying to guess the flavors, waiting for a jolt in your memory for your taste glands to recognize what you are eating.

I experienced all of this and more at the 2011 Taste of Perkins.

This event made me admire and respect my sister Monica even more. As many of you know by now, one of my sisters is deafblind. We communicate by sign language – she signs with her left hand (because her right hand was paralyzed) and we sign into her hand so she can feel it. I can’t imagine a world where I can’t see nor hear, but my sister is rockstar. She is one of the most cheerful, brightest, and happiest people I know. Last Thursday, I experienced a fraction of what her everyday life is: I experienced how it feels to eat my food without seeing it.

I’ve volunteered at Taste of Perkins before, but never participated. This year, I attended the event and was able to do the blind tasting. Here I am with Beth, The Sailing Foodie:

we were blindfolded and given instructions by our guide, Michelle

it is really weird to eat something you cannot see - we had no idea what we just put in our mouths

chipmunk buddies! ("what did we just eat??")

Beth and I about to break into smiles as we recognized the chocolate and toffee flavors from the last dish

these were the "mystery foods" that were served to us

From right to left –

First bite: orbs of cucumber water (I guessed “something with watermelon” but Beth correctly guessed it as cucumber)

Second bite: savory french toast – cinnamon scented bread filled with mole beef (I guessed “some sort of beef pie,” “something with cinnamon” and “a pastry with beef?”)

Third bite: passion fruit curd, coconut milk tapioca and basil gelee (I guessed passion fruit panna cotta – close, right?)

Fourth bite: chocolate caramel crisp “snow cones” (this was my favorite! I pinched the powdery, crunchy bits and immediately knew that it was something chocolaty)

afterwards we were lead to a different table for the wine tasting (hi, Mom!)

wine 1: chardonnay

wine 2: cranberry blush

wine 3: bordeaux

wine 4: garnacha

let me tell you this: after being blindfolded for several minutes, and then drinking four glasses of wine, all the sounds around me were just AMPLIFIED. Beth and I agreed that we were both more aware of what was going on around us, just by what we can hear

This made me think of Monica again – if this is how it feels to not be able to see anything, how does it feel to not be able to see nor hear?

My sister has always inspired me to be more grateful and empathetic, but after just a few minutes of experiencing a blind tasting, my heart is bursting with pride and affection for her. She is so strong and smart and determined, and the Perkins Deafblind Program has truly been instrumental in helping my sister shine as an individual.

before the food and wine tasting, I went around the Howe Building exploring the different programs

they showcased different sensory stations and education materials such as this textured map

and toys for blind kids

I also checked out some of the auction items, like this autographed Celtics basketball

and admired the beautiful flower arrangements created by Perkins students

The night was pulsing with camaraderie and goodwill, and people seemed genuinely excited to try the savory, sweet, and wine tastings. But those were just little bites, and there was a lot more food and wine outside the tasting hall:

roasted pear with goat cheese on top of a lavender biscotti

fingerling potatoes with taleggio cheese and speck

grilled shrimp skewers

thai summer rolls

chicken bahn mi

Asian noodle boxes with sesame salmon and julienne vegetables

and mini carrot cupcakes with cream cheese icing

I didn’t get to take pictures of the others food items, like the turkey sliders, teriyaki beef satay, assorted cookies and fruit, because I was busy um, eating.

we were happy food bloggers

I was glad to experience Taste of Perkins with my mom, Alaina, and Beth. It was also great to see Jonathan Soroff from the Improper Bostonian. I was Jonathan’s guide for Taste of Perkins a few years ago, so I was the one who walked him through the food and wine tastings, giving little hints and encouraging him to guess what he was eating. I remember he got all the wines right!

The 2011 Taste of Perkins was a wonderful event. It has helped ingrain in me a deeper appreciation of and gratitude for my senses of sight and sound. I am also in even more awe of Monica and the other incredible students who are being helped everyday by Perkins. I’m proud to help Perkins in any way I can, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s Taste of Perkins!

Have you ever had a blind food and wine tasting before?


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