Probably one of my favorite experiences to have when traveling is to share a meal with a local. The conversation cannot be matched by a tour guide. Your meal partner will likely know about as much about the touristy things in their city as you know about the ones in yours, which is usually almost nothing.
What they can tell you is what its like to live and work there. Their worries, their fears, their challenges, hopes and dreams. Given all that, you can really get an insight as to what life is like in that country. You’ll eventually forget the statues, the buildings, and tours. You’ll rarely forget the friends, the times you’ve spent with them, and the things you’ve learned from them. Its because of that which is why I always recommend that everyone use CouchSurfing in some capacity on their trips! Some of the most memorable meals I’ve ever had in my travels were breaking Ramadan fast for the evening with a friend’s family in Istanbul, dining at the neighborhood pub with a friend in small-town England, sharing school lunch with a class of students in Japan, eating the late night grub after a night of clubbing with friends in Barcelona, or trying French pastries in Paris with friends you made at the Louvre.
However, if you really just want something a little more concrete, check out EatWith.com
This interesting site gives you the opportunity to dine in homes around the world, meet locals, enjoy local food, and these usually make for some amazing memories. I’ve never used the site before, but as long as the keep adding new countries (and they are), I’ll definitely be using it! If you’ve got a limited amount of time in a city, but don’t have the time to make a friend on CouchSurfing (and hope they are nice enough to invite you for dinner, provided they can cook at all), just use EatWith.com!
For example, check this out:
Look at that kitchen! Look at that table and chairs! You simply cannot get more authentic than that! It actually reminds me of meals at my Italian Grandmother’s house. The prices are very reasonable. Keep in mind, this is NOT a restaurant. You are a guest in someone’s house. You are there to experience the meal with them. You’re not going to walk in there, eat, leave a few bucks on the table next to your dirty dish. It would probably be polite to bring some bread, wine, dessert, or small gift of some sort. It would also be nice to help clean the table afterwards.
I really hope this EatWith.com website grows. There was another site a while back that offered something similar, but it was Italy only, was marketed poorly, and was kind of expensive. Let’s hope EatWith.com grows! Maybe you could make a few extra dollars and friends as a host in your area. Maybe you make some good baked desserts? Maybe you’re good at making hamburgers on the grill? Even if you think its just average and typical of your culture, it might not be average for a traveler from another part of the world and they are out there wanting to try your food and get to know you!
Plus, its insured…whatever that means:
-Jason of TWiBT