There are dozens of reasons why I travel. I travel to see new places, meet new people, experience new cultures, and to push myself out of my comfort zone. I travel to gain a better understanding of the world. And, I’ll admit it, I travel to eat!
I don’t think you can understand a culture until you’ve sat down to a meal with someone from the local community. When you eat with a local, you learn about the history of the food, where it comes from, what the local food markets are like, and how the cuisine has grown and morphed throughout the history of the people and their country.
I love finding tiny food stalls and back-alley restaurants when I travel. I’ll never forget the time in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam when my husband and I discovered a tiny restaurant outside of the tourist district serving bowls of Pho and $0.15 homemade draft beers. We had an incredible meal and an even more incredible experience hunched on the tiny red plastic chairs around an outdoor table with all of the local people.
I’ll also never forget when my husband and I stayed and ate with a local family on Lake Titicaca in Peru. The best part of the entire experience was meal time when we ate the local cuisine cooked over a wood fire and huddled together at the table to eat and talk over candlelight.
The trouble is, it can sometimes be hard to find a local experience in a new town. Visitors usually flock to the same tourist districts where tourist shops and tourist restaurants abound. So how do you find opportunities to eat with locals all over the world?
One really great option for travelers looking for an authentic experience is www.withlocals.com. Withlocals is a website that connects travelers with local families willing to host meals in their homes. The goal is to not only have a great home-cooked meal but also to connect people and cultures through food and unique travel experiences.
Withlocals is connecting travelers and local people in Asia and SE Asia. They offer everything from food tours in Vietnam to momo making sessions in Nepal and everything in between. Signing up for a food experience in a local home is something that I have done many times on continents all over the world and they are some of my favorite experiences and memories. Anytime I am lucky enough to be invited into a local home to eat a local, home cooked meal I always take the chance and it is also a really great way to support the local economy.
Making momos in Nepal