Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Dinner party

People who love to cook frequently like to host dinner parties. It provides an opportunity to share one’s cooking passion with friends in a relaxed, intimate setting. Cooking clubs have been popular for decades, with dedicated members who alternate hosting and cooking duties. The advent of the internet greatly expanded opportunities for like-minded people to get together. In the last few years a new phenomenon has emerged: apps and websites that facilitate dinner parties or meals with complete strangers.

Sites like Eatwith and Grouper offer to connect individuals all over the world for an evening of dining or drinking. Grouper pairs two groups of three friends each for an outing to a club, pub or other location. Eatwith, on the other hand, connects people in the homes of hosts, who plan a menu, set a price for the meal, and post it on the Eatwith website. Other members browse upcoming events in their area and make a selection. Current listings include offerings like “A Modern Mediterranean Dinner” in New York City for $46.

Another unusual site, LeftoverSwap, connects people who want to eat or share leftovers. Despite its seemingly humble concept, LeftoverSwap sets lofty goals for itself, hoping to simultaneously reduce food waste and feed the hungry.

The staying power of this model is questionable. Some sites abandoned the concept of connecting strangers with one another less than a year after their creation. HomeDine, for instance, launched in July 2013 but now notes on its website: “Well..That Was Fun! We want to thank you all for beeing [sic] part of the HomeDine community. After hundreds of meals all over the world we decided to change course.”

Would you allow complete strangers into your home? Would you go to an unknown host’s home to dine with other strangers?

While you mull over the concept, here’s a Mediterranean feast you can make (with or without strangers) from the EYB library:

Start off with these refreshing beverages
Mediterranean baked feta with tomatoes
Green olive and lime tapenade

Main course:
Lavender and honey glazed chicken with pine nut, chervil and honey sauce
Chargrilled broccoli with chilli and garlic

Roasted Mediterranean vegetable lasagne

Cucumber and pomegranate salad

Yogurt and semolina syrup cake with rose water


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