Recently, while in Barcelona, Spain, I was invited to have a unique dining experience by a relatively new service that matches travelers with local hosts interested in sharing their cooking expertise. The service is called WithLocals.com, and they also specialize in providing tours and other activities with locals, in fact their tagline is “Connecting people through food and experiences.”
Taking the metro to a neighborhood just near Gaudí’s famous La Sagrada Familia church, we visited the flat of locals Mon and Cristian, an outgoing young couple who were kind enough to welcome us into their home.
Our visit was rather last minute, so Mon, short for “Montserrat,” told us she had to scramble a bit to be sure she had the right ingredients to make several distinctive dishes, namely paella and Spanish tortilla. She also taught us how to prepare the incredibly simple, but just as incredibly tasty, pan con tomate, which was traditionally a way to prolong the life of stale bread by grating fresh tomato on it, along with rubbing a hint of garlic and a splash of olive oil.
Although I’ve owned several restaurants in my past, and I grew up in the restaurant business, I certainly don’t consider myself a chef, not even a cook, let alone a serious foodie, but I do enjoy great experiences and I enjoy unique and well-prepared food, so this was right up my alley.
As someone who organizes and leads cultural tours around the world, I’m always interested in introducing my trip participants to the local cuisine by offering foodie tours, or sometimes even cooking classes, but the WithLocals.com experience takes this to another level as it gets travelers into the homes of real locals, something that I consider to be the ultimate travel experience, so this is the best of both worlds.
Not only was it fun to learn about these distinctly Spanish dishes from Mon as she gingerly prepared them, more importantly it was great to meet her and Cristian in their home, and even if only for an evening, to spend time with new friends.
Although I speak Spanish, Mon and Cristian spoke English very well, and I’d have to think the language barrier shouldn’t be problem in any of the WithLocals.com experiences.
Bonus: Even though we were a bit older than Mon and Cristian, they still invited us to their favorite bar for a drink and some trivia games afterwards where we were able to continue the conversation.
I can highly recommend our experience at WithLocals.com to anyone looking to get a peek into the homes and lives of real locals in the destinations they serve, which is continually expanding. Not only can you learn a new skill, you can make new friends.
And just recently they announced a special 2 for 1 offer, so Spain is 1/2 off. Simply use coupon code #SPAIN at THIS LINK. I’m certain it’s for a limited period of time, so don’t delay.
Important Note: Although we were invited to enjoy this experience with Mon and Cristian as complimentary guests of WithLocals.com, this had no influence whatsoever on my review of their services.