When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch
food / travel

"Airbnb Of Food" Allows You To Break Bread With Strangers

Just as Airbnb allows people to share their homes, a pair of new "table d'hôte" sites are giving amateur cooks a chance to share their tables.

Preparing dinner for unknown guests
Preparing dinner for unknown guests
Aïna Skjellaug

LAUSANNE — Setting your table for complete strangers, getting reimbursed for food expenses — and hopefully, making friends in the process.

That, in a nutshell, is the concept behind websites such as EatWith or Surfing Dinner, Internet platforms that give everyone a chance to eat out, albeit not in a restaurant. The sites are part of the so-called sharing economy, offering people an experience that is both social and original — an improvised kind of table d'hôte.

Léonard, a 35-year-old Belgian man who arrived in Lausanne a few months ago, decided to give it a go as a host. "I knew about the concept of EatWith in Brussels and thought it would be a good way to meet new people," the computer engineer says.

Léonard's first step was to visit the website and suggest a menu, a price, a date for the dinner, and a maximum number of guests. "I wanted to play with stereotypes by offering homemade moules-frites(mussels and fries), gourmet ice cream, and do a tasting session with different Belgian beers," he says. "It worked pretty well because in two days, I had my four guests." The improvised restaurateur fixed the price of the meal at 25 Swiss francs ($25.25) per guest.

Then came the long-awaited meal. For extra effect, the Belgian, who doesn't like to do things halfway, put on a satirical Manneken Pis T-shirt for his first guest, who arrived at 7 p.m. The Manneken Pis, meaning "little peeing man," is a landmark sculpture in Brussels of a boy urinating into a fountain.

The guest is Marco, a 39-year-old Italian who soon proves to have quite the sense of humor. He's later joined by Lilliane and Séverine, two friends from Lausanne who are both in their 40s. Soon things are in full swing at Léonard's place, in the heart of the working-class Boveresses neighborhood.

"We love going out and meeting people, but with the mentality in the region, it's not always easy. Talking from one table to another at a café barely ever happens. Nowadays, everything is done through social networks," says Séverine, who heard about the meal-sharing platforms through word-of-mouth.

Léonard's mussels, superbly spiced, and his fries, coarsely chopped, are to die for. And the beer ... after the Angelus and the Barbar we're now onto the Médiévale. As glasses and bottle are emptied, cheeks turn redder, the volume goes up around the table, and signs of awkwardness disappear.

Marco imitates his boss, effecting a strong Vaud accent. He mimes uncomfortable situations in the Lausanne metro, and has fun pointing out certain Swiss idiosyncrasies. Lilliane and Séverine laugh heartily: They had no idea they'd also see a one-man-show tonight. Léonard is delighted — and looking forward to plans he made with Lilliane to go see an open air movie on Saturday.

Another table d'hôte platform, Surfing Dinner, was launched last year by a Lausanne couple. The experiment has been quite successful: Since October 2015, about 100 such meals have been organized.

Unlike platforms such as Airbnb and Uber, Surfing Dinner doesn't handle any money. Dinner guests pay their host in person. And yet the system works surprisingly well. Out of all the guests who've signed on to attend Surfing Dinner meals, only one was a no-show. Legally, however, the table d'hôte is still something of a gray area. In the canton of Vaud, it's allowed for gatherings of up to nine people. In Geneva, it's not allowed at all.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


Shame On The García Márquez Heirs — Cashing In On The "Scraps" Of A Legend

A decision to publish a sketchy manuscript as a posthumous novel by the late Gabriel García Márquez would have horrified Colombia's Nobel laureate, given his painstaking devotion to the precision of the written word.

Photo of a window with a sticker of the face of Gabriel Garcia Marquez with butterfly notes at Guadalajara's International Book Fair.

Poster of Gabriel Garcia Marquez at Guadalajara's International Book Fair.

Juan David Torres Duarte


BOGOTÁ — When a writer dies, there are several ways of administering the literary estate, depending on the ambitions of the heirs. One is to exercise a millimetric check on any use or edition of the author's works, in the manner of James Joyce's nephew, Stephen, who inherited his literary rights. He refused to let even academic papers quote from Joyce's landmark novel, Ulysses.

Or, you continue to publish the works, making small additions to their corpus, as with Italo Calvino, Samuel Beckett and Clarice Lispector, or none at all, which will probably happen with Milan Kundera and Cormac McCarthy.

Another way is to seek out every scrap of paper the author left and every little word that was jotted down — on a piece of cloth, say — and drip-feed them to publishers every two to three years with great pomp and publicity, to revive the writer's renown.

This has happened with the Argentine Julio Cortázar (who seems to have sold more books dead than alive), the French author Albert Camus (now with 200 volumes of personal and unfinished works) and with the Chilean author Roberto Bolaño. The latter's posthumous oeuvre is so abundant I am starting to wonder if his heirs haven't hired a ghost writer — typing and smoking away in some bedsit in Barcelona — to churn out "newly discovered" works.

Which group, I wonder, will our late, great novelist Gabriel García Márquez fit into?

Keep reading...Show less

The latest