How to Guarantee You Are Eating Where the Locals Eat

Where should we eat?

It’s one of those age old questions, especially when traveling. We want something good and something local – not some chain, or run-of-the-mill place where the decor looks fantastic but with teenagers working in the back. In short, not a place designed to attract and trap the tourists.

Easier said than done.

When traveling to Italy however, there is one sure-fire way to eat where the locals eat. Have a meal in one of their homes.

That’s what TourMama, of Slow Travel Talk, and her husband did as part of the Home Food le Cesarine program.

The experience as described by TourMama:

Under the Home Food auspices, Italian women (Le Cesarine) prepare meals in their homes for guests. We reserved before leaving home, and were delighted by the whole experience. Ours was a lunch, rater tha an evening meal, and that proved to be a plus, as it was a generous meal, leaving us with no need for dinner! We were joined by a couple from Belgium, the Cesarina and her husband and 10 year old daughter, and a family friend who had been invited in case an English translator was needed. We learned about traditional Salentine food, and enjoyed several relaxed hours of eating, drinking and sharing. … it was all wonderfully fresh and delicious, and was accompanied by local wines, served by gracious and warm people.

Slightly odd? Perhaps. Adventurous? Sure. A completely unique experience? Absolutely.

In addition to getting a peek behind the walls of a local family and share a meal with them, the food itself is literally unlike anything you would be able to find anywhere else.

My experience of this level of eating in Italy is that often recipes in the sense we know them don’t exist, and that is partly why eating in people’s homes is so exciting and revealing if you enjoy home cooking, which is so much different than restaurant cooking. … Sadly, I have to say that one of “revelations” of the Home Food experience is that so much of this food just isn’t exportable. Even if you get a recipe, Tuscan kale is just not the same outside of Tuscany. Onions are different. The local oil is different. Even the salt is different! ~swithers

I’m not sure if similar programs exist in other countries, but if they don’t I would expect to see them popping up soon. The concept certainly doesn’t replace great restaurant meals, and it likely isn’t something you would want to do every day of your trip. But how often do you get invited by a local family to eat a home-cooked meal when you are traveling? And a home-cooked meal by a great home cook to boot.

If you know of similar programs in other parts of the world, please post information about them below.

Read the thread in its entirety: A lovely lunch in Lecce through “Home Food”

Image: “Breaking bread, juice, dinner party, Broadview townhouse, Seattle, Washington, USA” by Wonderlane. CC BY 2.0.


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