Some of the best meals I’ve ever had in Italy came from home chefs, and not in restaurants. Italian cuisine is the result of poverty + resourcefulness over lots and lots of time to prefect the dishes that remain unique to each area of Italy, and change from town to town, and region to region. So it makes sense that if you want to eat something really authentic, you need to get something homemade.
I was lucky to recently meet two young entrepreneurs out of Singapore, who started BonAppetour, hoping to capture, and make available to tourists, something that restaurants cannot. Below is Rinita, one of the founders, on the right, and Alexandra, their local community manager/organizer.
On their site, you can select filters that show you what dinners (and often, classes) are available, and you can read other diner’s comments. You reserve and pay online and are then basically invited to someone’s home for a kind of dinner party – with the host present. This makes it not just an experience of the food, but also a way to connect tourists to locals. It’s not often easy, or possible, to score an invite into someone’s home! This way, you get a great meal, and the kind of insight that comes with meeting people of different cultures, who are happy to share their knowledge and open up their homes to you.
Our host, Francesca, made us a Milanese-themed dinner of liver paté, ossobuco (veal shanks) and risotto alla Milanese (flavoured with saffron), finished with a kind of tiramisù cream and pavese biscuits.
They seem to have a strong presence in Asia, their stomping ground, but also have many hosts/chefs in France, Spain in Italy – probably the three places most people want to have a home dining experience in.
Just a note though – authenticity is not synonymous with the postcard perfect/stereotypical vision that many people have of their destination. So be prepared to get out to areas that real locals live in and to perhaps engage in conversations that reflect surprising opinions!