Once upon a time when people wanted to break bread with other folks, they would only invite neighbors, friends, family members, co-workers or even new acquaintances; but rarely, if ever, total strangers. Well, times have certainly changed. Indeed, there are several online services that help pair meal feasters with meal cookers in the homes of the latter. In San Francisco there are several options that bring hosts and guests together who have never met. Four of the more prominent ones are SupperShare, EatWith, VoulezVousDiner and Feastly. Similar to Blanche DuBois, they too depend on the kindness of strangers.
Here is the skinny on becoming a guest for a vegan, fatty, lean, artsy, carnivorous, gluten-free, singles, couples and/or other types of meals:
1) go online to any of these sites and sign up
2) search and choose available meals
3) pay the hosts
4) show up hungry
Or, those who want to host and serve home-cooked meals need to:
A) make a profile
B) upload the menu
C) get paid
D) host the meals
ABC 7-News, in its “Diners Eating With Strangers” segment reported that this could be the next big social media trend.
This concept is quite popular with tourists visiting San Francisco who want get off the beaten path and experience some local color from the insides of some eclectic homes. Occasionally Bay Area locals engage in this quickly growing trend and bypass going to a restaurant but to a complete stranger’s place for a home-cooked meal. Moreover, those with homes here in San Francisco and who love to cook for others will invite total strangers in for a meal and fellowship. Then to stir the pot a little more, not only do the hosts not know the guests and the guests do not know the hosts, more times than not, the guests do not know each other.
According to Guy Michlin, co-founder of EatWith,
“Most tourists won’t get a chance to meet the locals except maybe the Taxi driver, or the waiter in the restaurant but EatWith aims to change this.”
NPR in a segment titled “Sometimes A Perfect Stranger Is The Best Dinner Host” described this new food trend as the Airbnb for hungry people. These websites are affording tourists and locals not only a home cooked meal but a cordial, inviting setting with interesting conversations and some potential new friends. In other words, it could become a really fun party with a bunch of people you’ve never met—a good old fashioned “chat, chew and chuckle”.