At the end of July, I released Episode 4: How the Blind Email, Tweet, and Blog (or “Yes, That’s Really Me on Facebook!”) of my Blind Life YouTube series. It was my response to all the questions about how those with vision loss use technology.
Yes, I use my iPhone every day, and without it, I’d be bored, disconnected, and lost. The hubs had showed me this video a long time ago about how Siri’s voice was created, and it’s so weird to hear “Siri” speak about anything other than telling me my message is sent, my reminder is set, or that she is searching the web for “‘House of Cards’ plot synopsis.”
I was in Denver this summer at a fundraising gala for Phamaly Theatre Company, a theatre group giving those with various disabilities opportunities to take the stage. As a writer and graduate of University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program, I am naturally a supporter of the arts and jumped at the chance to support the performing and musical arts for a group of people With special needs.
As a person with a disability, I have firsthand experience on what sort of a toll it takes on the self-esteem. Phamaly provides a way for those with disabilities to take center stage, helping raise self-confidence, self-awareness, and self-expression.
But enough about my soapbox for the day. Let’s move on to what I ate in Denver!
Growing up, summer breaks were equated to a ton of TV time. I had no siblings, so my summer companions were LeVar Burton at ”Reading Rainbow” at 9 AM, Jon Baker and the Ponch from ”CHiPs” at 10 AM, and Woody Woodpecker and Looney Tunes in the afternoon. (Mid-day TV always sucked, as soap operas and “People’s Court” didn’t appeal to my nine-year-old self.)
As an adult, the summer break is a sentimental thing of the past (unless, of course, you’re a teacher, which I am not). But that doesn’t mean I don’t get my TV on.
I sometimes get accosted in the grocery store by people who have seen me on TV. They say hello, tell me I’ve inspired them to cook, shake my hand, maybe ask for a photo. There have been a couple of times when shoppers tell me they’re actually at the store collecting ingredients to make one of my recipes from my cookbook—that’s indeed a cool feeling. All the while we are conversing, though, I can’t help but imagine their eyes cutting to the contents of my cart. And then I internally blush when I realize I probably have two pounds of butter and three pints of ice cream in the basket.
If you think the title of this second half of my Stockholm series sounds crazy, it’s because the food kind of was.
Per a recommendation from my liaison with the Ikea Supper Club campaign, we ate at Oaxen Slip which, my dining companions told me, had a beautiful waterfront view. We were seated in an enclosed patio with an actual boat suspended from the ceiling. The server said the smoked herring appetizer was a must-try, and this dish turned out to be my favorite. I also had a healthy helping of snaps, which was no easy feat in my esophagus.
The next webisode of my Blind Life YouTube series is released!
This time, I answer a question so many sighted people have had since the dawn of my television existence: “Christine, how do you use Facebook and Instagram if you’re blind? Is that really you tweeting? I hope someone reads this to you some day…”
Well, finally, here’s the answer to those perpetual questions. If this webisode spawns even more questions, feel free to leave them in the comments; I’m happy to dispel the myth of blind incapability. Happy watching!
Oh, for the love of food…
Last month, I’d gone to Stockholm to serve as guest chef at Ikea Sweden’s Supper Club. After an event in Milwaukee, followed by a butt-crack-of-dawn ride to the airport to catch an early flight to Houston, a 5-hour layover in Houston, then 16 hours of travel time to Stockholm, I stepped off the plane, dropped bags at the hotel, and headed straight to Frantzén, one of two 2-Michelin star restaurants in Sweden.
I must say, I believe I enjoy 2-star restaurants more than 3-starred ones. I chalk it up to my affinity for accessible food and dining experiences. When I say “accessible,” I mean dishes that can be relatable by all; sometimes, an experience is so formal, I’m too stressed about proper table manners to truly enjoy the experience. And eating, being a favorite pastime, should be nothing but relaxing. A part of it stems from my not being able to see; and thus, presentation of plates is not as impressive to me, nor is the often complicated methods of eating them—give me a single bowl and a single spoon, and I’ll happily scoop stuff into my mouth.
Frantzén, I was told, was small and simple in design. Unadorned linens, plain white walls, no fancy chandeliers or buttresses. Just a bar with an open kitchen, and a few tables gathered within the unassuming space.
“Well, uh, that’s a good question…”
And then I’ll spiel into how my cookbook being accessible was a top priority (it was, and still is); how the editor and publisher agreed (they did); but that in the end, the economics just didn’t make sense—the cost of printing my cookbook in Braille would be too high, and the publisher would have no choice but to pass along that cost to the consumer. And we all know my cookbook may have been a NYT best seller, but who are we kidding? Nobody’s going to buy it for $200!
Last week, I posted a video about my menu for the Ikea Supper Club: five courses of small offerings that reflected both my heritage and upbringing. A month has gone by since the Supper Club, and I still reflect upon the menu fondly.
The guests seemed to thoroughly enjoy the dishes (or at least that’s what they told me), and when asked which was their favorite, a majority said it was the pork belly bao.