As people search for more authentic experiences, what could be more real than having dinner in someone’s house, or letting a local take you shopping in the markets, or enjoying an organised evening with a food theme, a tastings of local produce, doing a cookery class or participating in a celebratory meal.
Growing out of the success of holiday rentals by owners, such as Homeaway, Airbnb and Housetrip, travellers are increasingly enjoying eating with local residents while on holidays. This is a great way to experience a destination and gain a new perspective.
Eatwith. com pairs locals with visitors for a meal at home. You simply identify your destination to see what hosts are available there. People sign up to be hosts and have a profile that tells you about themselves, their home and locale, what kind of food they like to prepare, and how much it costs. There will be photographs of the host and the food you can expect. You pay directly to the website and everything is confirmed by email including map, telephone numbers, and details of how to get to your host’s home.
It is early days for this new trend and currently on Eatwith there is only one Irish host and she is a Japanese woman who cooks traditional Japanese food. If you like to be in at the beginning of a trend now may be the time to join – it could be a way to supplement your income and meet new interesting people.
So far there are only nine hosts in London, six in Rome, 19 in New York and 13 in San Francisco. So you can experience that dinner with the former monk in New York, or watching the preparations for Hanukkah.
In Rome, film buffs will love dinner with Eleonora who is full of stories from her career in the business or why not try a German brunch in San Francisco with Coreen. In London it’s all ethnic, with Italian feasts, Spanish food and Japanese vegan.
The other upcoming site is Bookalokal. com and is devoted to not just dining in someone’s home but also cookery classes, outings, wine tastings and even sharing of Grandma’s culinary treasures. Again, there are not a huge amount of hosts yet but the ones that are sound fascinating. Most prices on these sites are in the range of €20-40 for lunch or dinner and usually includes wine or other drinks.
Sharing networks have been around since before the internet and a long-time host in Paris is Jim Haynes. Jim, an American, has been hosting a salon on Sunday night in his atelier for more than 30 years. Guests come along for supper, and to meet other people. Different friends take turns doing the cooking and there could be up to 60 people for the evening jim-haynes.com.