The best way to experience a foreign destination is to meet the natives, and online services are making that easier than ever before. You can stay with local hosts through Airbnb, explore with local guides through Vayable, and dine with local cooks through sites like PlateCulture, Feastly, Cookening, and EatWith.

Like Airbnb for meals, these sites let you browse and book authentic food experiences from an organic lunch on a California farm to an Indian banquet in a Kuala Lumpur home. Hosts are usually vetted before being listed, according to Edible Brooklyn, but quality is ensured through the self-regulation of peer reviews.

These sites offer a chance to find respite from chilly Amsterdam winters with a bowl of hearty homemade stamp pot (the Dutch mix of mashed potatoes and vegetables), to shop the farm stands of Tel Aviv for a Middle Eastern market meal, or to try a Malaysian grandmother’s recipe for nonya salted fish bone curry.”

A PlateCulture host in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Facebook/PlateCulture

A PlateCulture host in Kuala Lumpur. (Photo: Facebook/PlateCulture)

“Hungry patrons browse listings, RSVP for whatever catches their stomach’s attention, and pay a small fee electronically—between $15 and $70, say—to cover the cost of groceries,” reports Edible Brooklyn.

Unlike the daylight robbery that occurs at tourist traps, opening your home and sharing food with strangers is a highly-personal bonding activity, and most hosts are not just in it to make a buck. EatWith co-founder and CEO Guy Michlin says he started the company in Tel Aviv after a friend-of-a-friend got him invited to a family dinner in Crete that turned out to be the highlight of his trip. Cédric Giorgi founded Cookening in Paris because he realized he was always hanging out with the same friends, and wanted to meet new people.

While the hosts are always local residents, you don’t have to be a traveler to attend one of the meals. As with any supper club, all you need is a sense of curiosity and adventure—and an appetite, of course.

[via Edible Brooklyn]