In the early 80's, I participated in the Pepsi Challenge. My palate not being refined as it is today, I "failed" the challenge, thinking that the Coke was Pepsi, or maybe it was that I preferred Coke over Pepsi, something that's not hard to do. Now, with 20 years of caramel colored soda addiction under my belt, I can taste the difference between a diet Coke and a caffeine free Diet Coke; I am THAT GOOD.
In college my Polish theatre professor would have a blind vodka challenge at his end-of-the-year party. Senior year I picked the expensive Polish vodka and was thrilled to have passed that particular test with flying colors; it made me feel sophisticated and knowledgeable. I like the idea of eating while blindfolded. Apparently in some culinary programs, this is how they train you to know and understand spices. Would I know the difference between tarragon and herbes de provence if my eyes were closed? Well, I'd like to, anyway.
I love, also, the idea of eating blindly in a more metaphorical sense. I have heard of small restaurants in the italian countryside where you walk in, sit down, and eat whatever Dona Sophia puts in front of you. What a relief not to have to choose! Oh how I yearn to trust a cook like that. A few weeks ago at Cacio e Pepe in the East village, I couldn't decide between the gnocchi and the fettucine. When I asked the waiter for his advice, he replied simply: I'll suprise you! I was delighted and the gnocchi was excellent.
In theory, a blind date should hold the same appeal. My own ability to choose between the male equivalent of the gnocchi or the male equivalent of the fettucine is questionable at best. The friend (or in my case, usually the friend of the mother) can be the helpful waiter (or Dona Sophia herself), making culinary decisions for me. But my helpful waitstaff keeps sending me dishes I don't like, and I don't think I am even such a picky eater. Some friends of mine might argue that in fact I have a predilection for....say...cappelini in a lemon butter sauce, and that even when I think I am ordering something different, a closer look will reveal cappellini, and butter, and lemon, in some combination or other. Perhaps they are right; but I simply don't like tuna melts. I think they are nasty, and morally wrong and no amount of nose holding or forced swallowing will change my mind. Have I dragged this poor metaphor out long enough? Basta.