I Want to Eat in the Weird French Lampshades

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Cozy. Photo: Thibault Camus/AP

For weeks, we have wondered, How will we ever eat in restaurants again? How could we possibly feel safe, so close to so many people, all of us breathing together, touching our mouths with our possibly dirty hands?

I am very pleased to tell you this is no longer a problem, because the French have solved it: What we are going to do now is eat while encased in individual clear plastic lampshades.

The individual clear plastic lampshades hang from the ceiling on cables (like old lampshades!), but are better than light-focused lampshades, because there’s a cutout in the back so you can get in and out without crawling. You have probably seen a photo of these people-encasing lampshades on the internet today.

That’s where I first saw them, and at first I thought, No. Or rather, non, out of respect for the French. I like touching things! I touch glasses and tables and napkins. Also, I love sharing meals — eating from just one plate is an overwhelming commitment — and you can’t share a meal when you are encased like a gourmet bubble boy.

However, now that I have pondered it for several hours, I think I was too hasty with my repulsion. Bubble dining is not only a concession to a broken world; it would be a multisensory culinary experience, and I love experiences. I haven’t had one in several months, except for eating jam, but I remember being interested in them. “I want to believe that it can add something because I find it fun,” says Parisian restaurateur, Mathieu Manzoni. I believe I would also find it fun, mostly because in recent weeks my definition of “fun” has expanded greatly. (Have you ever showered? Fun!)

According to the designer of the lampshade, Christophe Gernigon — technically, it is called the Plex’Eat — there are other dining bubbles on the market, but they are all distinctly like prison visiting booths. “I wanted to make it more glamorous, more pretty,” he tells Reuters. This is convenient, because I, too, would like to be more glamorous, and more pretty!

Perhaps it is best to think of the bubble shade less as a necessary barrier between you and a terrifying world, and more like a giant see-through blanket for adults; maybe it isn’t really safe in there, but it feels safe, and also there is wine. How does the wine get in there? The reports do not elucidate this point, but the image promises it’s possible.

Apparently, the device is also a hot commodity these days, with preorders rolling in from France, Japan, and the U.S. Hopefully that means my Brooklyn neighborhood, specifically, because obviously, in the age of lamp-dining, I’m not traveling anywhere far.

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