How to find a home-cooked meal in Berlin, Sao Paulo, or Tel Aviv | Bleader

Monday, December 10, 2012

How to find a home-cooked meal in Berlin, Sao Paulo, or Tel Aviv

Posted By on 12.10.12 at 01:15 PM

Meal Sharing
  • Meal Sharing
Alienation is the occasional side effect of foreign travel—but unlike, say, intestinal upset, you can't always just pop a Cipro and move on. The liberation of being away and unencumbered by the familiar is at constant odds with the sense that you don't belong and you really know nothing. Eating is one of the most direct ways to get to know a city, but you can eat all the street food you want and it's not going to help you understand it more than a home-cooked meal would.

To that end there's Meal Sharing, a new social-networking site founded by Chicagoan Jay Savsani that aims to hook travelers up with hosts for home-cooked meals. Savsani, a web designer, was inspired by a meal he ate in Siem Reap, Cambodia:

I had the unique opportunity to be hosted by a Cambodian family for a meal in their home. It was such a magical experience to be in their home, eating traditional Cambodian dishes, and sharing tales from our respective homelands. The best part of the evening was when the host busted out his Casio keyboard and played some classical Cambodian songs. I definitely wanted to create a website that would help facilitate the spontaneity and beauty of the evening that I shared in Cambodia. Unique tastes with very kind people around the world.

Here's how it works:

As a member you log onto the site and request a meal prepared by a particular host on a particular date. The host may decline, but hopefully accepts, after which the two parties message back and forth (allergies, dietary restrictions, etc) until the meal is set. Afterward you go back on the site and review the experience "to help build trust and safety for the site."

Meal Sharing was in beta mode for two months before launching two weeks ago. Right now Savsani says that there are about 60 registered hosts—mostly in Chicago and Berlin—but 250 users overall in 50 cities. There have been 50 meals shared through the site and Savsani aims to branch out to Sao Paulo, Mumbai, and New York City.

Mike Sula writes about cooking every Monday.

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