I love food! I love tasting food, smelling food and looking at food. Above them all, I love making food. For years I miserably declared that I don’t have an inkling of artistic flair in me. However, give me an apron, a wooden spoon, a recipe book and throw in a glass of wine. Then put me in front of my gas stove and the creative genius in me is unleashed. Yes, I love making food and making it for others. No self-doubt anymore, I have art in me….

 

So obviously, when the Cape Town Good Food and Wine Show (GF&WS) came up, I marched up to hubby and insisted that we go. Insisting that we go alone as a date definitely did the trick. He agreed and we decided to spend some time during Saturday the 3rd of June at the Cape Town Convention Centre exploring the GF&WS. Some reluctance crept in prior to us going and for a few brief moments, I wondered if it wouldn’t be easier to just stay at home. That is what you get for working hard during the week and being over 50 – doing nothing becomes an appealing prospect.

 

Alas, the thought of seeing Marco Pierre White live in action toppled the scale and off we went. As we entered the convention centre the mixture of people, smells and buzzing activity literally flared up my brain to a state of exhilaration. I just couldn’t wait to taste, see and experience. My senses were all switched on, alive and ready to fire – all guns blazing. As a turned back – yes, I was kind of running to the stimuli ahead of my husband – I saw a different picture. There was obvious discomfort and apprehensiveness on his face as he asked, “Can you hear all the noise? There is a constant hum and buzz in my ears”.

 

The sensory seeker in me, with high sensory thresholds, was embracing this environment while he, a sensory avoider, with low thresholds found it overstimulating. But he declared: “I am doing this for you, and you only”. I was reminded that compromises often occur in relationships and that choosing date night activities are one of them. Shuffling through the crowds and dodging people made him very aware of his environment and placed him somewhat on high alert. The shuffling for me just created more interest and stimulation – where are we going and what are we seeing, smelling, tasting? I saw the buzz and people as a common denominator in our quest for sensory experience. My husband, on the other hand, saw the buzz and people as a sensory distraction and irritation. It helped when we sat down in the chef’s open theatre, had an excellent bottle of red Shiraz and was nibbling on the variety of wonderful food.

 

Marco Pierre White entertained us in a more controlled and quiet space. Hubby was happy and I was over the moon. I even got the chance to ask him a question – does he like South African food and has he tasted biltong yet? After that, we wrapped up the evening, had a great coffee and delicious, sweet nougat and made our way back home. My cup was full, I was happy, thrilled and sensory pleased and hubby could do his late night unwind in front of the TV. I thanked him for making the effort for me, gave him a bear hug (deep pressure calms the brain), and replied that he can choose the next date night.

 

Understanding sensory diversity has been my quest in life but being reminded again and again how it influences our choices and relationships is such a blessing. Insight and understanding is key. I am sure our next date night will be a movie in a small, dark theatre or maybe dinner in a tucked away restaurant. It will be an “old” restaurant that he knows and we will be sitting at the table on the end, with his back to the wall. His sensory system will be at peace, mine would potentially be somewhat bored, but the compromise is always worth it. I’ll be reminded of the GF&WS….

 

Understanding and respecting individual differences and different sensory needs should be the lens through which we see our partners. Loving and accepting them for who they are and appreciating their strengths does wonders to any relationship. So next time – to do or not to do? Knowing your sensory thresholds and sensory needs not only help you to make better choices but also enables you to nurture your relationships.
If you want to understand your sensory thresholds and know which choices to make, contact us for an online version of your Sensory Matrix.

 

5 Tips for sensory avoiders to manage food and wine shows:
1. Wear a hat, beany, or scarf to “protect” your ears and head. It has the capacity to drown out some of the noises.
2. Let your partner do the people shuffling in front so that you can follow in the back. He/she will open up a path for you with less bumping and touching.
3. Go in prepared – self-talk and commit to staying in it and leave before your system reaches sensory overload. Knowing that you are doing this for someone else who you really care for helps. We should always be giving more than getting.
4. Find a quieter space, corner or table (always the one at the side and not in the middle) where you can sit and be still for a bit. It can help to calm the senses in a “pause” mode.
5. If all else fails, just indulge in good food and drink more wine! It is not a blog about food and wine for nothing….