Traveling? That doesn't mean you can't have a meal with friends.
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I love to travel. The sights, the sounds, and the experiences (good and bad) are almost always enriching. It may sound like a cliché, but travel really does broaden the mind.
And one of the best aspects of traveling is discovering new food, and one new service is making that process a little easier. EatWith offers a unique way to experience local cuisine and cultures and maybe create lasting friendships in the process.
Essentially, EatWith works just like popular alternative accommodations site Airbnb. But where Airbnb connects travelers with cheap rental rooms and homes, EatWith helps you connect with hosts and attend pre-arranged dinner parties, from San Francisco to Paris and dozens of cities in between. The idea is to allow travelers to experience new cultures and food in an intimate setting, far from the usual tourist traps.
Each host is carefully vetted, and according to founders Guy Michlin and Shemer Schwarz, only about four percent of those who apply to host meals actually make it onto the site.
The high standards seem to be paying off; it's almost impossible to find a host with a satisfaction rating below four stars on the five-star scale. However, while useful for diners, the rating system doesn't yet allow hosts to rate customers.
There are, of course, a few downsides. Socially awkward travelers would probably find the idea of sharing a meal with total strangers to be a horrifying prospect, and if you're concerned about health and safety regulations... well, these kitchens probably aren't getting checked.
But these minor concerns aside, the service seems like a clear win for all involved. Hosts get to share their homes, hone their cooking skills, make friends from around the world, and even make a little extra cash. Diners get a home-cooked meal and, more importantly, get to experience a kind of cultural exchange that would otherwise be left entirely up to chance.
Currently, EatWith dining experiences are available in more than 140 cities in 28 countries. Prices for meals range anywhere from $15 to more than $100 per person, though most seem to fit into the $20-50 range.
The service isn't exclusively for travelers, either: Locals hoping to expand their palate and social circle could also stand to benefit.
Hero Image: Flickr user "thelittlenell" (CC BY-ND 2.0)
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