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New Trend Gives Strangers a Taste of Faraway Lands

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Albany/HV: New Trend Gives Strangers a Taste of Faraway Lands
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A new trend in "global sharing" allows people to get a taste of faraway lands while dining with complete strangers. Our Valarie D'Elia filed the following report.

New York-based Food and Travel writer David Farley lived in Rome for three years and, besides writing a book, returned home with some Italian-inspired recipes.

He recently served one of them, rigatoni alla carbonara, to six guests, most of them complete strangers, in his snug Greenwich Village apartment.

"I love the instant gratification of cooking, as opposed to writing, when the story you write comes out a year from when you write it," Farley says.

Farley is participating in the latest global sharing economy trend popularized by websites such as EatWith.

"It's meant for people who want to share their food and love of food with other people, as well as people who want to explore new food and new countries," says Hila Katz of EatWith.

EatWith home-spun dining is now available in 30 countries, where potential hosts line up dinner and interested guests buy into it.

Farley's guests forked over $28 for the meal, which included appetizers, ample cocktails and a 15 percent markup for EatWith.

The website screens both hosts and guests to alleviate worries about dining with disaster.

"They came over and they vetted me to make sure I don't have industrial-size freezers full of dead bodies," Farley says.

Even still, there's no guarantees.

"I think there's always some type of risk with any social interaction on the internet," says Starr Densford, an EatWith guest.

Not regulated by the New York City Department of Health, EatWith chefs have no permits and aren't subject to inspection. But they benefit from instant reviews.

"It's incredible," says Susan Jensen, an EatWith guest. "I grew up in an Italian immigrant neighborhood in Brooklyn, and this is the real deal."

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