Eat like a true Italian and member of the family!
Written by Jessica Spiegel –
Some people are lucky enough to have family in Italy, or at least have very good friends who will occasionally invite them in for home-cooked meals. For the rest of us, thankfully there’s an alternative – it’s called Home Food.
Italians are fiercely protective of their cultural heritage, and especially their cuisine. It’s this protective nature that lies at the heart of the Home Food organization, based in Bologna, but the face Home Food shows the world is one that foodie travelers to Italy can easily get behind no matter what they know of the history of Italian food.
The program sets up a simple way for people to eat in the private homes of specially chosen cooks (called “Cesarine”) whose directive is to serve dishes made with local and seasonal ingredients. A Home Food cook in Palermo may cook a traditional Milanese dish to perfection, but that dish isn’t appropriate for a Home Food dinner because it’s not local. The rules Home Food sets out are strict, but as mentioned, the mission of the organization is more about preserving traditional Italian recipes and cooking methods – the fact that we can benefit from that by eating some of what’s prepared is just a bonus.
Home Food members (called “User Partners”) pay a fee to join the organization, and then can sign up for individual dinners that are on the calendar. Dinners can be as small as groups of six people (including the hosts) or as large as 20 – because they’re hosted in private homes, ranging from apartments in Milan to villas in Tuscany. Each dinner’s menu is listed on the Home Food website well in advance on the calendar of upcoming events, and there are dinners each month in cities throughout the entire country.
For foodie travelers, Home Food presents a unique opportunity to not only sample traditional Italian food but also get a peek into a typical Italian family’s life. It’s one thing to eat a sumptuous meal at an internationally-recognized restaurant in Italy and another thing entirely to attend a Home Food dinner. You’ll eat well at that restaurant, no doubt, but I suspect the Home Food dinner will provide you with more lasting memories.
What to Know if You Want to Attend a Home Food Dinner:
Each Home Food dinner costs between Ä30-50 per person (it depends on how elaborate the meal is, or sometimes where the dinner is held), and a monthly membership for non-residents is Ä3.50 per person. You can learn more about the Home Food program on the official website, and sign up to be a User Partner here. I attended one of these dinners in Milan a few years ago, and you can read about my personal experience at a Home Food dinner as well.
About the Author:
Jessica Spiegel is the resident Italophile at BootsnAll, the indie travel resource, and she’s the author of BootsnAll’s Italy guide, WhyGo Italy. She’s based in Portland, Oregon, a Twitter addict (she’s @italylogue), and checks her own site’s Italy travel deals page on a daily basis in anticipation of her next visit to Italy.