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Eatwith, The Airbnb for Foodies



There’s a new business afloat that links people to people for the purpose of sharing authentic local dining experiences.  I found a month too late for this summer’s vacation, but there’s always next time.

I’m fresh back from a few weeks in Europe, a family reunion through Paris and Venice and Rome that doubled as a Tour de Overeating.  Our literal pig-out on sausage, pancetta, soppressata, and prosciutto was a vacation from the fabulous food in my adopted Amman, Jordan hometown, but those holiday restaurant menus started to blur.

Next trip, wouldn’t it be great to drop the chowing down a notch? Veer away from other tourists, enjoy local food with the locals?

Entrepreneur Guy Michlin had a similar thought, which he acted on by creating a foodie version of Airbnb: it’s a winning recipe. Michlin is co-founder and CEO of, an internet marketplace offering alternative food-sharing around the world – in people’s homes. (Michlin graduated from Hebrew University, topped that off with an Stanford MBA, and the man knows food.)

Story goes that a home-cooked meal he ate while vacationing in Crete inspired the former lawyer to ditch his job at one of Israel’s leading solar energy companies and devise a system to allow users to replicate his magical travel meal anywhere in the world.

So far, Israel is the only participating Middle Eastern country. Click on David if you want to book a Tel Aviv-style Shabbat dinner, or check out Vita and Jet for a scrumptious vegan feast in Kfar Vradim. Email Esther in Beit Arif whose husband (both pictured in the lead photo above) will whip up recipes handed down from his Yemenite mama, served up in their backyard tent (image below).

You can also dine on homemade paella from a backyard grill in Toledo, Spain or a BYOB Thai-Brazilian feast in a Sao Paolo flat.  (We’ll be seeing cooks in Bethlehem and Jerash and Beirut on board soon.)

Launched last year, EatWith offers users two options:

1)    Host your own pop-up restaurant by preparing your favorite dishes, served up in your home with a side of your  cultural perspective. In the process, meet interesting people and earn some extra income.

2)    Move a bit out of your traditional dining comfort zone and sign up as a guest.  Taste new foods and local lifestyles for fair prices, and – again – meet new people.

“Most tourists don’t get a chance to meet the locals except maybe the taxi driver, or the waiter in the restaurant,” Michlin told TechCrunch, “but EatWith aims to change this.”

Michlin started with meal offerings in Tel Aviv and Barcelona.  He added New York City and quickly expanded across the Americas and Europe. He’s received host applications from more than 80 countries.  To ensure guest safety, the company employs a strict host vetting process and holds a $1 million insurance plan should something go wrong.

Hosts set the prices (EatWith takes 15%) and define the menu and scope of any entertainment (visits to local markets, musical performances, guest speakers and cooking workshops). A few offer to come to your home as visiting chef.

Each host page includes useful information describing the host’s style and experience, number of guests allowed, and event duration.  Locations are mapped and venue amenities listed (disabled access, kid-friendliness, pets on premises, smoking policy, parking and access to mass transit).

So far, EatWith reports that the majority of guests are actually local to the hosts.  So maybe the Airbnb analogy is not the best fit. EatWith may be a more tasteful regression from Facebook, social networking the old fashioned way.

Now, would someone pass the bread?

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Food Trends to Watch out for in 2021




I was certainly anxious to put 2020 behind me, and after going through Pinterest’s 2021 trend report certainly gave me a clearer picture of what 2021 might look like. So what is food going to look like in 2021?

“Pinners will experiment with new flavors, techniques, and cuisines at home,” says Aya Kanai, the head of Content and Editorial Partnerships at Pinterest. Here is what that means:

Flavor Rules

Pinterest predicts that people will be using spices more generously in 2021. More Pinners are searching for terms like ‘tomatillo enchilada sauce,’ ‘cajun chicken pasta recipes,’ and other search terms that betray a hunger for more spicy dishes. 

This coincides with Instacart’s prediction that people will be preparing more heavily spiced food in 2021.

More Varied  Charcuterie

People will be creating charcuterie boards for more than just meat and cheese. Dessert spreads, breakfast spreads, and other unique charcuterie board trends will be used in 2021.

We’ve already seen varied charcuterie boards in 2020 as people created hot cocoa boards and Halloween inspired boards. 

Top Chef Inspiration

Many people are no longer able to visit restaurants, but that does not mean that they don’t want to enjoy a restaurant experience. 

More people are going to be trying to hone their cooking skills in 2020 to prepare meals that look more like what they would find in a restaurant. 

A surge in Pinners searching for garnishes, gourmet food plating among other terms shows that more people are looking to recreate the experience of eating in a restaurant even as they dine at home. 

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What has 2020 done to your Grocery Shopping?




2020 has been unlike any other year in recent times. 

Once in a while, I enjoy the pleasure of testing new recipes to see if they work just as well for normal people like me who are not trained chefs. 

The first time I tested a new recipe from a chef, I was totally nervous about it. I did not know whether I could pull it off, or whether I was going to waste my ingredients and disappoint the people who were going to taste it. 

Now, I test a new recipe every month. I choose a recipe that sounds delicious and will get me to do something I don’t usually do. The challenge is exciting. 

Testing new recipes has given me a chance to really think about the accessibility of different ingredients during this time of Covid. I used to go out of my way to find things like unique types of chile or fresh herb. Now I am more likely to order it online or Google substitute ingredients instead of going out in search of a hard-to-find ingredient. 

Even when you have the money to order unique ingredients and have them delivered to your house, you will find that the pandemic has made us all more conscious of what we are eating and how it gets to us.

I find ways to incorporate any leftover ingredients in the next meal, to avoid wasting it. Pumpkin left over from a pumpkin-tahini mousse pie, will probably find itself in a spiced chocolate pumpkin cake. The leftover tahini will probably end up in brownies or swirly loaf cakes. 

I wonder how other people do about recipe ingredients they haven’t worked with before. What happens when it is not stocked in your local grocery store? What if you don’t want to end up with unused portions that you can’t afford to waste? 

Even as we think about food ingredients, we need to remember how our purchasing decisions affect farmers in far off places like India, where farmers are marching to protest against harmful agriculture policies and unfair markets. Diaspora Co is a spice company that works with farmers in India to address this problem. 

Some restaurants within the US are doing anything they can to adapt to the realities of the pandemic; from selling groceries, to laying off workers (which 17% of restaurants have done). Restaurants are expected to continue laying off workers in the days to come. 

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The Umami-Synergy in and Nutritional Resource that is Yeast, Marmite & Vegemite




Yeasts are some of the most versatile cooking ingredients in the food industry. This single-cell fungus with a round shape serves a wide variety of uses. 

Some of the earliest documented scientific research into the nutritional value of yeast was published in Volume 88 of the American Journal of Pharmacy in 1916. 

The researcher, Atherton Seidell who was based at the Hygienic Laboratory found that he could alleviate malnourishment in pigeons by administering spent yeast that he got from breweries. The Hygienic Laboratory is now the National Institute of Health. 

In contrast, when the pigeons were feeding exclusively on polished rice, they were malnourished to the point of paralysis. The yeast provided the missing vitamins and minerals. 

The remarkable results showed how a cheap waste product could be repurposed as a source of valuable nutrients. 

Tove Danovich published an excellent article on NPR that explores the history of yeast as a nutritional powerhouse. 

Food products that contain yeast come in two varieties. Nutritional yeast is a dry, yellow powder made up of dead brewer’s yeast. This is yeast that has been killed using heat.

Nutritional yeast is great for adding a cheesy taste to your dairy free food recipes like crackers, cheese dips, savory cookies, and lasagna. You can make a cheese free cheese dip with the addition of a tablespoon of nutritional yeast and a little corn starch to some nut milk.

Yeast extract is used in commercial food products like Vegemite and Marmite yeast paste. Yeast extract is a dark and thick liquid or it may be dehydrated so that it is sold as a powder. 

The yeast cells are shrunk by adding salt or broken by steaming to make yeast extract. Yeast extracts are nutrient rich: containing B complex vitamins as well as iron. When Australia’s supply of British yeast extract Marmite was interrupted during WWI, Australians created their own Vegemite which also includes celery, onion, and other vegetables. 

Whether you opt for yeast extracts or nutritional yeast, you will end up with a meal enriched with umami substances like glutamates and ribonucleotides that make for a rich savory experience. The synergy between the two is known as umami synergism. 

The combination of both enhances the umami taste. The condiment also has a bitter note that might come off as intense or bitter, depending on your sensitivity. Yeast pastes add flavor to toast, pastas, soups, savory pastries, and meat marinades. Use them any time you want to make a savory dish more intense. 

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