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?


26 Responses to “2011 Taste of Perkins”

  1. #
    Alaina posted October 9, 2011 at 10:32 am

    What an awesome recap Bianca!! You are such a talented writer. :-)

    It was so great going to the event with you!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 9, 2011 at 10:54 am

      Aww thank you Alaina, that means a lot to me. Hope to see you again soon!

  2. #
    Daisy posted October 9, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    your sister is such an inspiration, she has quite an amazing spirit. I am so impressed at how well you did on the blind taste test. looks like fun!

  3. #
    Tracey posted October 9, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Bianca, what an amazing post. Just reading it made know see how proud you are of your sister and all that she has overcome and accomplishes daily. I am a little teary right now. I did “Dining in the Dark” and I can agree it is quite experience to lose one of your senses just for that short amount of time.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 9, 2011 at 4:59 pm

      Thank you so much Tracey for the kind words!

  4. #
    Heather posted October 9, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    What a neat event, I’ve never done anything like that before but it sounds cool. All of the food looks delicious too.

    Your sister sounds like such an inspiration as well!

  5. #
    Emily @ A Cambridge Story posted October 9, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Wow, your sister is truly inspirational! This sounds like such a great event. Really helps put things into perspective!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 9, 2011 at 5:00 pm

      Thanks Emily :) Hope you are enjoying the weekend!

  6. #
    MelissaNibbles posted October 9, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    What an amazing event. Very inspirational.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 9, 2011 at 8:13 pm

      Thank you Melissa. Hope all is well with you!

  7. #
    lindsay posted October 9, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    thats so fun! and honestly, a great way to connect with your taste buds again!

  8. #
    Michelle posted October 10, 2011 at 8:53 am

    This sounds like a really interesting experience! What a great cause!

  9. #
    Molly Galler posted October 10, 2011 at 10:45 am

    What a fantastic idea for an event! I grew up in Newton, MA right near the Perkins School and have always known what a tremendous organization they are. Thanks for sharing, Bianca!

  10. #
    Megan posted October 10, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    From everything you’ve told me, I can tell your sister is a rockstar. It sounds like Perkins has some really amazing programs and that this tasting was such a great cause!

    Also, that fingerling potato app… what a cool idea.

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 10, 2011 at 3:43 pm

      Thanks Megan :) Um, yeah, I had about three of those baby potatoes. Or four. Maybe five?

  11. #
    Meghan@travelwinedine posted October 10, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    This is such a great post! It sounds like an incredible event.

  12. #
    Elizabeth posted October 11, 2011 at 7:31 am

    I really wanted to go to this, but sadly couldn’t. It’s such a cool and unique event.

  13. #
    nicole @ Making Good Choices posted October 11, 2011 at 9:06 am

    I don’t know which food looks the best, the potatoes or the spring rolls. This event is very unique, thanks for sharing :)

  14. #
    Bridget posted October 11, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Wow what an incredible event and so amazing about your sister! I think it would take some guts to just not know what you’re putting in your mouth…you really have to have some trust for that! But what a great way to kind of be able to feel what it’s like for those who can’t see.

  15. #
    Beth (Well I'll Be) posted October 11, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Sounds like such a neat event, for an even better cause. And what a great way to raise awareness by blindfold taste testing!

  16. #
    Megan posted October 11, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    This sounds like so much fun. I’ve never eaten food blindfolded, but it would be a great experience to try and guess what I was eating and really focus on just the flavors, and not be influenced by the presentation.

  17. #
    Susan posted October 12, 2011 at 6:07 am

    What an amazing event. One of my best friends has worked at Perkins for many years- definitely an inspiring place.

  18. #
    shannon posted October 12, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Wow, I’m floored. Your sister certainly sounds like an amazing person, and this event… incredible. You did awesome at the taste test, and I think that would be a great way to dine every once in awhile :)

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted October 12, 2011 at 11:29 am

      Thanks Shannon :) Hope to see you again soon!

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