Dinner in the Dark and Russian Adoptees
Dinner in the Dark
They let me blindfold them, and then they ate. I wish I could just leave this post at that cryptic sentence, but I’ll elaborate. Some friends—brave souls—came over the other night and we recreated a culinary experience in which you’re not allowed to see your food. Why would people do such a thing? Because it heightens our sensory world(s); it brings things out about the food—textures, smells, associations—that we, who rely so intensely on sight, forget, ignore, or, however consciously, suppress. Ever since its inception at a French exhibition in 1993 called “Dialogue in the Dark,” which raised awareness of the blinds’ experience, dining in the dark has become a culinary trend, sweeping through cities in Europe and now the U.S. Though not as fancy, expensive, or well executed as a restaurant, like Opaque, which specializes in dark dining, I did my own low-budget version with scarves (for blindfolds) and paper towels (to hide the pre-prepared food). Instead of ordering from a menu, my friends had to guess their meals. It was a blast. They poked and prodded—one with her fork, the other with his hands—trying to figure out what was what. Sweetened cranberries became dried pineapple; lasagna was lasagna; toasted cashews, some kind of nut. One friend had memories of being a small boy eating his grandmother’s food. In a couple of weeks, these friends will have my fiancé and me over to dinner, and return the experience. We let them blindfold us, and then we ate.
—Nicola Fucigna, Fiction Editor
A little over three years ago Justin Hansen, a seven-year-old adopted Russian boy, was put on a plane back to Russia with a note from the adoptive parents saying that they could no longer take his violent behavior and wanted the adoption annulled. The incident sparked an international scandal, and led to the Russian campaign against the adoption of Russian children to the United States. Since then, the Russian authorities have put forth a propaganda campaign about the treatment of Russian children here and, as retaliation for the passage of the Magnitsky Act in the U.S., ultimately banned the U.S. adoption of Russian children. Irina Aleksander’s article, “Cold War Kids,” in the current issue of Harpers, is an interesting exploration of the problems that often arise for parents adopting from Russia and the resources available to them in the U.S., the absurdity of the Russian anti-adoption propaganda machine, and the creation of a Russian bureaucratic system that has led to a surge in the number of children who live in Russian orphanages.
—Masha Udensiva-Brenner, Editor