Calling All Travel Junkies: Experience Local Cultures Through Cooking

Learn to make pasta in Rome and pastry in Paris.

One of the best ways to really understand a culture, it may be argued, is through its food – and what better way to get a hands-on grasp on cultural cuisine than by cooking it alongside someone who prepares and eats it every day?

That seems to be the thinking behind Airbnb Experiences’ new “Cooking” category, which presents travelers with the opportunity to prepare more than 3,000 different kinds of foods – sometimes using longtime family recipes -- in more than 75 countries with local cooks both famous and unknown. The creation of the Cooking category appears to be a progression from its existing food and drink Experiences, which have grown 160 percent over the past year.

“Unlike typical cooking classes, which can feel intimidating or time-consuming, at the heart of every experience is human connection; people coming together to make and share a meal,” Airbnb promises in a blog post announcing the new Experiences category. “Hosted by families, farmers, pastry cooks and more, local hosts can now highlight the deeper meaning behind the food you eat, teaching traditional recipes and sharing stories in intimate settings around the world.”

Airbnb promises that Cooking experiences and hosts have been “vetted” to ensure that they communicate the cultural heritage of the traditional dishes being prepared, in part by bringing their own personal stories to the table.

As part of its push to put Airbnb Cooking Experiences on adventurers’ maps and expand its offerings, the travel company is inviting applications and nominations from home cooks to be among 100 chosen to travel to Italy to work with experts -- including Momofuku chef and founder David Chang and his mom -- to fine-tune their family recipes and have their work included in a forthcoming Airbnb cookbook.

“Ever since the very first guests travelled with Airbnb, we have realized that sharing a meal is the key that unlocks culture and fosters connection,” Airbnb CEO and cofounder Brian Chesky said in an announcement. “Through Airbnb Cooking Experiences, we want to bring back the tradition of people coming together to make and share meals, and through this help preserve unique recipes that are shared within family kitchens around the world.”

The Cooking Experiences will let you learn to make pasta in Rome, bento boxes in Fujinomiya City, Japan; French pastries in Paris; and a host of other delicious-sounding hands-on experiences. In other words, it’s pretty much all the fun travel you can eat.

Photo: iStock

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