Hungry While Traveling? Go to the Home of Some Stranger for Dinner

Cacik is a Turkish dish served cold and consists of diluted yogurt that is generally seasoned with salt, garlic, chopped cucumber, dill, mint, olive oil, lime juice and garnished with sumac. This dish was not purchased through one of the services highlighted in this article. Photograph by FlyerTalk member aw.


Are you tired of staying confined to your hotel eating substandard room service fare or dining in a restaurant alone while on a business trip — but would like to have some company join you? Do you have a family who longs for a home-cooked meal instead of fast food offerings while you are all on vacation? Are you looking for a unique experience dining on food which you may not find in a restaurant? Perhaps you have dietary restrictions which leave you with few choices when eating away from home.
Would you like to host a dinner at your home while showing off your culinary prowess to travelers from lands foreign and domestic — and earn some income in the process?
A new service called HomeDine.in offers the opportunity for you to either host a meal for people you have never met, or be invited to the home of someone you have never met for a meal. For example, you can enjoy a “kebab startup” in Palo Alto, California on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 8:00 in the evening comprised of kebabs, hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled vegetarian portobello burgers, hummus, tehina and pita; or you can partake in “lighter Moroccan goodness” in Israel on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 1:00 in the afternoon comprised of chicken phyllo rolls, tabule, Moroccan bread and baked potatoes prepared by a group of Moroccan women. This service shares few details up front; you may have to log in and join to find out additional details. I am not inclined to do so.
There is also a similar service called Kitchensurfing, which allows you to “discover amazing cooks for any occasion” where the chef uses your kitchen to prepare the meal — as well as be responsible for cleaning up after the meal. Unlike HomeDine.in — without having to log in, anyway — each chef clearly posts the hourly rate for a meal, the menu with details of each course served during the meal, as well as up to how many people can attend. For example, you can enjoy salmon cooked in banana leaves on the grill in a Spicy Chilli Sambal, served with Ghee Rice and Singhalese-Style Cucumber Raita as the main course; an appetizer of Po Piah, which is steamed rice-paper wrapped roll with jicama, carrots and black mushrooms seasoned with homemade shrimp stock, hoisin and hot sauce; and a dessert of Lepat Pisang. which is comprised of “coconut-ty banana pudding steamed in petite banana parcels” — all for $500.00 for six guests, or $83.00 per person with a maximum of 20 guests. An additional fee of 2.9 percent imposed by Kitchensurfing and a fee of three percent for the processing of payment adds almost five dollars, meaning you should expect to pay approximately $89.00 per person when rounded up to the nearest dollar.
Sample photographs of the meals are available on both Internet web sites.
These services are relatively nascent, so their networks are not yet robust enough in terms of convenience. However, they are apparently open to anyone around the world.
There are questions which to me remain to be answered, such as:
  • Restaurants are regulated by the board of health of the jurisdiction of where they are based. What if someone is served tainted food from a meal prepared at the home of a stranger, resulting in food poisoning, for example?
  • What is the recourse if the chefs cause damage in your home — or what if guests cause damage in your home?
  • What is the recourse if you accidentally cause damage in the home of the host, such as breaking a few plates?
  • What if the meal initially seemed appetizing to you when viewing the photographs and details, but you did not enjoy the experience after all?

If you are adventurous enough to enjoy eating unique meals prepared specifically for you in an atmosphere other than a typical restaurant, these services might just be for you. Although the curiosity of FlyerTalk members seems piqued about this form of dining, do not expect it to save you money — unless you compare it to fine gourmet dining that could cost significantly more money for a similar style of meal at an expensive restaurant where you would not receive personalized service.
Then again — in the case with Kitchensurfing — you can enjoy a custom meal prepared by a chef in the comfort of your own home where you would not need to travel, brave inclement weather, sit in traffic, look for parking, fight crowds and waste fuel. In the case of HomeDine.in, you have the opportunity to enjoy an authentic meal at the home of a member of the service where you happen to be traveling, avoiding potential “tourist traps” and having to place a reservation in a foreign language if you happen to be in a different country.
In other words, think of these services as the “bed-and-breakfast” equivalents of dining.
What do you think? Would you try any of these services? If you have already done something similar, please share your experiences.

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