“Social dining” is becoming more and more popular among travelers. It’s also called “couchsurfing for food”. Traveling, besides opportunity to see new places and learn about new cultures, give you also a chance to taste local cuisine, which definitely is part of country’s culture. Everyone knows that common meals are connecting people, no matter if it’s your home-country or half a world away, so why not to try it while traveling? Social dining is becoming a worldwide trend of the XXI century.
Idea of “social dining”
Idea of inviting strangers for a common meal could sound weird 20 years ago, but today it becomes a more and more popular trend. And we should admit, it has a lot of advantages. Besides enjoying the meal, that kind of meeting can be a really useful experience while you’re traveling. You can find out about places worth to see, which you wouldn’t find in any guidebook, and you can get some advice on how to get there as well. Moreover, at the end of the dinner, it can turn out that being in totally new place in the world, you gained new friends! You are getting to know not only the hosts but also the other guests who – same like you – love food and traveling!
How it works?
Every website – most of them, together with mobile apps – is working slightly different. However, signing in takes just few clicks and usually you can connect your account with your Facebook or Twitter profile. Firstly, you have to choose the country and the city where you want to join the dinner. Next step is to find the offer which seems interesting for you, and then choose the date. The last thing is just making a reservation. If you’re interested in the specific offer, but the date is not suitable for you, you can suggest organizing the dinner in a different time. It’s common that the meals are totally for free but most of the hosts require some costs-contribution. The price differs depending on the type of the meeting and place, where it’s held. Each of those platforms are focused on creating communities, so are connected with trend of ‘social travelling’, which aims to connect people through exchanging an experiences and helping each other on travels.
Idea of the most popular ‘social dining’ website spread to 450 cities around the world, with the greatest popularity in Berlin, Chicago, Madrid and Sao Paolo. The hosts are opening their doors for those who are seeking for local food tasting and new friendships. The guests can come with their friends (of course informing the host in advance is necessary) or solo, what increases the chance to get to know more new people. It’s nice when you bring some small gift for the hosts, especially when they don’t demand any dinner-costs contribution. Every time hosts are rated by the guests and get the note and review on the web after the dinner. This system of recommendations helps making decisions for future guests.
The thing which distinguishes this American website from others is that it’s creating the small groups (4-6 people) with common interests, and organizing a dinner party for them in local restaurants. Website’s founders think that it’s easier to get to know each other in such small groups, especially having a common good meal in a local surrounding. It’s not a typical social network – although you can invite your own friends for dinner, the main goal of this platform is helping to get to know new people, who you met on the website.
This platform, in contrast to MealSharing.com, is more focused on travelers. What does it mean? You can join the whole families or groups of friends, eat dinner in somebody’s flat or have lunch in the city. The website works in 150 cities in 32 countries worldwide. Every offer includes full menu, the duration of the meal, the size of the group, type of the cuisine and the way of hosting the guests. Guy Michlin, the founder of EatWith, got the idea in 2010 after his holiday on Crete island, where he was invited for the feasting with the Greek family. This inspired him to share his experience with other passionate travelers, who also appreciate good cuisine.
Common meals with strangers are becoming popular not only in Europe or USA. Interesting offer for backpackers has TravellingSpoon, which exists in 35 cities around Asia. The web differs from the others by peculiar packages: you can arrange not only common lunch or dinner but also a cooking lesson or a visit to the local market. Those offers are available for travelers, either than small groups. Similar platform working in Asia is also PlateCulture.com
In 30 countries worldwide, 40 cities from Seattle to Colombo, you can taste chili crab in cozy apartment in Singapore or paella with sea food on the terrace in Barcelona, or take part in fiesta on the yacht sailing on the Italian Tiber. The founders convince that as a host you’ll have a possibility to share your culture and cooking passion with people from all over the world, while as a guest – you’ll taste home-cooked meals and maybe you’ll even learn some new recipes, which you show off when you’ll be back home.
It’s a platform for “people who love cooking and people who look for a moment of discovery and encounter. Whether you are young, single, retired, a tourist, a whole family or a group of friends, there is always a “VoulezVousDîner” dinner for you.” – this what you can read on the website. VoulezVousDîner was founded in France in 2011, started from Paris, Marseille and Lyon. Currently you can find some hosts for example in the Capetown, Buenos Aires, Tokio, Sydney or even Prague! Guests can expect some additional attractions, because it happens that, besides preparing the meal, hosts are inviting their guests for a drink to their fav bar or just for a walk in some nice local surrounding.
The team of Cookening.com (now as a part of VizEat.com) has been created by 3 French guys “passionate about three things: discovering new food, meeting new people, and traveling around the world.” The idea of Cookening is an adaptation of their French concept “Tables d’hôte”, which means the meal serving to the guests at a specific time and for set amount of money. “We want to bring people from other cultures together around home-cooked food so that they can experience something that they have never experienced before. Cooks get the opportunity of sharing their true authentic cuisine with interesting people that want to experience real local food. Plus, they can make extra money, and we want to empower these people with great cooking and hosting skills!” – convince the founders. The platform works in few European cities (i.e. Rome, Paris, Amsterdam and London) and in New York.
The number of similar websites is increasing from year to year, and it’s becoming some kind of phenomenon, especially for those who love to connect traveling, getting to know new people and tasting good local food. It’s definitely a great opportunity to discover new cultures.
Try by yourself if you haven’t tried yet!