Logrono, (EFE). Gastronomy critic and blind chef Jonathan Armengol believes that “technology has greatly improved inclusive gastronomy,” especially in the field of visual impairment, but “there are still barriers to break down.”
This was described in an interview with EFE at the first Congress of Inclusive Gastronomy, which will take place this weekend in the capital of Rioja, thirty speakers from all over Spain representing the philosophy of integration in their daily activities.
Armengol, who has many projects in social networks, is one of the participants in the round table at the congress “Gastronomy in social networks available to everyone”, in gastronomy, “When you are a minority, the majority has to learn. to modify” for the first time.
However, he assured, “Technology, in particular, has greatly improved the inclusion of the blind or visually impaired.”
“From the menu in braille (in restaurants) – the reading system for the blind – QR codes, which will allow access to information on the Internet” and if it is uploaded correctly, he noted, ” it can be read, thanks to mobile technology and its applications.”
Also, Armengol pointed out that advances in technology allow a blind person to not only read a menu in a restaurant, but also to communicate.
Common sense is important
In addition to the progress brought by technology in the field of inclusion, this reviewer and a blind chef highlighted the “importance of common sense” and the sensitivity of restaurant staff to the blind, among whom interaction occurs when seated at a table. In a restaurant.
“We have a lot more to do – perhaps among other handicaps such as reduced mobility and wheelchair access – in preparing premises for the hotel and catering industry,” he said.
In fine dining, he believes there is another hurdle to overcome and that needs improvement, for example in training when proposing more sophisticated and creative blind dishes.
When looking abroad, gastronomic inclusion depends on the country, Armengol said, based on his experience, in countries like the US and France, gastronomy is “more inclusive and simpler, but in Turkey or countries like that, it’s even more difficult”.
According to him, “Inclusion (in gastronomy) has more to do with the acceptance of disability than with accessibility, for example, blind people, guide dogs, etc.”
In this regard, “There is a big challenge in normalization, we all see ourselves (people) as equals, treat a disabled person as a normal person, the only thing we do is create awareness with our help. The person feels completely included, but that’s it.” It is a matter of “good will”.
Label in Braille
In the food industry, he insisted it was “very important to be labeled in Braille” and lamented that blind people “still have to put our finger in a packet of salt or sugar to know what it is”.
This is another hurdle to overcome because, “except for some hypermarkets that have Baril labeling on their white label, the majority don’t” and, for this, regulatory regulation is needed, he assured.
The same happens with home automation, where a blind person can operate a coffee maker, induction hob or washing machine from a mobile application made for these purposes. Said.
Unlike gastronomy, which includes hospitality and catering, in the domestic sector, “it is important that our politicians tighten the laws to make (inclusive cuisine) not an option, but an obligation, because going to a restaurant is optional, but eating every day is necessary.”
Regarding his projects, he mentioned that he is currently immersed in his program Comer a Ciegas on Radio Intereconomia, which he has directed for more than 20 years, and the YouTube channel he hosts, ElCaminoDelFuego, in addition to his social media accounts. .
In her professional work, she has expressed her goal to “normalize disability as much as possible and be self-inclusive so that people don’t see future generations as weird.”
This Congress is organized by the Rioja Association “Cooking Blind”, the blind chef Angel Palacios; The government of La Rioja and the integrated gastronomic company Rustic Experience Andaludia, with its inclusive cooking school El Colimpiro, led by blind chef Juan Manuel Medina.