By Vicki Edmunds – Vicki Edmunds is a Children’s Entertainer living in Wales.UK. She established the website www.eatwithalocal.com two years ago and travels around the world meeting up with members of the site. Her ambition is to find a hoard of treasure with her metal detector.
How The Site Got Started
The idea for eatwithalocal began in Slovenia, we had swapped homes with a family there and they had invited us to use some of the spices in their cupboard. When we saw and smelled the unusual spices filling every shelf, it got us to thinking about actually dining with our hosts.
We searched the internet unsuccessfully for a site that would connect people through food, we were very disappointed that there wasn’t anything available as a result we decided to start one up ourselves. It was left to me to research the idea and launch it as everyone else in the family had full time jobs.
Our first site was very rudimentary, it didn’t have a search engine and a distinct lack of members. Eat with a local really started to take off when I found a web designer who was willing to help out because he liked the concept. We don’t have an advertising budget, we rely on word of mouth and the odd article in the newspaper. It has led me on a very exciting journey, I have met strangers who have turned into friends and I have discovered lots of places I would never have explored through meeting people on the site.
Best Experiences With The Site
If I was asked to choose the best experience I have had to date it would be difficult as every one of my ‘meet ups’ have been good. “Old hippy” in Meredith, U.S.A. related her experience of stumbling on a tiger in the street in Cambodia – she made me laugh so hard. Meghana and Parish in Colva, Goa, made my Christmas memorable as we enjoyed the cocktails on the beach.
But it was the first time I ever met up with a host that was the most important encounter, as I knew if it was a disaster all my hard work would have been for nothing. Karmal greeted us in Marrakech, as soon as he shook my hand my fears were allayed, he smiled and introduced himself asking what type of food we would like to eat.
We ended up in a cafe that he used to work at in the famous Djemaa el Fna Square, we were surrounded by snake charmers and a good deal of other similar stalls. The food proved to be delicious and afterwards he took us on a tour of the souks, helping us to bargain, anyone who has visited Marrakech will be aware that the souks are quite dense and many a tourist has lost direction in them having to pay a guide quite a fee to lead them back to the main square.
We enjoyed our time with Karmal so much we agreed to meet him again before we left for home. We felt we had really got to know a little about the culture of his country and saw it through his eyes. On our second meet up with him we were introduced to Olivier from Canada, he had found Karmal on another social site and he too had met up with him on a couple of occasions, we made a happy group exploring all Marrakech had to offer safe in the company of a local person. The oldest form of making friends is ‘breaking bread” with them it has gone on over the centuries eatwithalocal is taking this tradition into the future.