When you are going for a night out in Amsterdam and have tried various restaurants, you might decide it is time for a dining experience that is altogether different. So why not meet up with the locals and enjoy a home cooked meal for a change? Thanks to a number of great online platforms, it is very easy to get to know absolute strangers over a nice glass of wine and some scrumptious grub.
One of the stars of the Amsterdam mealsharing scene is Caro van der Meulen, the host of Friday night Caro Kookt. Her living room restaurant is located just behind the Anne Frank House in the Jordaan and a typical dinner party in Caro’s living room will feature international and local guests from all walks of life; a set- up a writer like Ayn Rand certainly would have found inspiring. Come to think of it, anyone on the lookout for inspiration could do worse than turn up at impromptu dinner gatherings like this.
The dining experience is all but authentic and appears to be designed to offer relief from your average tourist trap. Guests connect with people they might have already met, but would have never conversed with at any length.
If this already sounds like a great idea to you, it could explain why Caro van der Meulen is thanking her lucky stars for losing her office job in the telecoms industry four years ago.
Her meals are now so popular that you have to book months in advance to enjoy the presence of Caro’s company on Friday nights…
So where does that leave the tourist who wants to be in on the dine-with-strangers-experience tonight? Well, other Amsterdam-based hosts are slowly waking up to the possibilities that global meal- sharing sites are offering.
If you would like to dine with an artist in her studio, or share a Flemish meal with a poet, just check the availability on Eatwith.com, and you’ll find a number of mouth watering ideas. As you can see from the site, the concept of meal sharing is one of the most recent things to take off in the Dutch capital, so reviews may be thin on the ground, but this can’t be anything but successful.
Another site is Mealsharing.com. Like Eatwith, this is a global organisation with a slowly emerging community of meal sharers in Amsterdam. Hosts on this site present a price list of whatever meals they are capable of cooking, as well as the details of other possible guests (such as their spouse/boyfriend) details about the cook’s own interests, occupation, why they are sharing meals, where they have traveled to, as well as enough other social information to give you the basic elements for striking up a convivial, ice-breaking conversation when you arrive.
Those who are interested in home cooked meals but have yet to recover from watching too many freaky episodes of Come Dine With Me, or people too shy, or tired of strangers, can order a home cooked meal to be delivered directly to their apartment. Fancy a really well made goulash? The hosts at Goulash@Home, Chris and Selina, rustle up this traditional Hungarian dish. They even do a vegetarian version. Deliveries take place between 5 and 10 pm and 900 ml of goulash sells for €12, complete with toasted bread, creme fraiche, and fresh parsley.
Dutch folk themselves are camped out en masse on Thuisafgehaald.nl. Given that this site is already densely populated, it offers you the chance to look up dishes really as close to you as your neighbors. So if you want to find that particular dish you enjoyed on that Far Eastern holiday years ago, but which you simply cannot get right when you cook it yourself, this is the solution.
When you click on the English language button on Thuisafgehaald, you will be directed to Shareyourmeal.co.uk, but just search under Amsterdam hosts on that site and you'll find what you're after.