I love street food as much as the next traveler but nothing beats an invite for a home-cooked meal from a local. Sometimes the invite happens organically. Sometimes it is a friend of a friend of a friend. Sometimes, it is an introduction from your awesome opthamologist (not kidding).

Apparently, I’m not the only one looking for that cultural immersion. While researching an upcoming trip, I ran across the concept of meal sharing websites. Basically, hosts offer a specific home-cooked meal served in their home for a set price. Hosts are pre-vetted and guests are encouraged to post reviews.

Intrigued by the idea, I decided to try it out in my hometown first. I chose an enchilada and flan meal with a $12 chip-in fee on mealsharing and was not disappointed. Although the food was tasty, the real draw was the company. The crowd included an eclectic mix of locals and tourists, most of them well-traveled. Hosts specify whether they will serve the meal only or dine with guests. Our host dined with us and made sure the conversation kept flowing.

I wouldn’t hesitate to book a similar experience while on the road or perhaps even host a meal myself. It’s also worth trying if you just moved to a new city and are looking to meet people. A number of sites currently offer the service in varying locations worldwide.

Some of the more popular meal sharing sites include:

As with all sharing services such as Uber, there is the issue of regulation. Meal sharing has yet to attract enough attention to find itself in the crosshairs of regulators or the health department but it will be interesting to see how it plays out in the future.
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