Kenn — foodie, vegetarian cook, slow budget traveler

Zest And Gusto Kenn Taj MahalI try to live a passionately mindful life. If you share these interest, come along for the journey. Having recently relocated to Chiang Mai, Thailand from Málaga, Spain, I expect a lot of new twist and turns in the adventure.
To give you some idea of who I am, consider that this website was almost called The Adventures of a Gay, Black Hippie. I was born and raised in a small town in South Carolina, USA but left to attend university in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. I’m dedicated to living fully and mindfully. This site is meant to inspire others to revel in all the beauty and positive energy that the universe has to offer as we try our best to do.


I loves all things culinary, although I have been vegetarian for the past 2 or 3 years. The moments when a brand new taste first touches my tongue are the most special times for me. And strolling through a fresh food market is like being transported to paradise. This was a passion that developed well into my adulthood. We follow an Ayurveda diet — thought this has been a bit difficult as we adjust to a new country, new foods, new everything.


Zest And Gusto Kenn Suspension bridgeI have loved exploring the world since accompanying an aunt and uncle on a trip to Canada as a child. Each trip, each country or city visited has fueled this already burning drive to discover new corners of the world. Each place I have been has shaped and stretched me in some special way. Some more than others, of course, but I would not trade away any of the experiences.


This is also a recently discovered passion. Although growing up in a rural area, I did a lot of hiking/trekking in my youth.


I came late to this arena starting in my mid-forties. But I made up for lost time competing in my first race — a half marathon — exactly 7 months after taking up the sport which I later found out was highly unusual. I try to put in 30km a week, but schedules do not always allow for it.

I have lived in various American cities (New Orleans, Atlanta, Tampa and Phoenix) and in Madrid and Malaga, Spain before coming to Chiang Mai, Thailand where we currently reside. That is until the wind blows us elsewhere.


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What’s in a name?

Zest And Gusto Kenn Being SillyWhy is the site called Zest & Gusto? I hope that you have asked yourself this question and I am more than happy to answer it.

To do so, I must take you back some years. As some of you know, this is the third incarnation of my blogging life. It all began  when I moved from the USA to Spain in mid-2004. Then I started Espanidense — a portmanteau of Español and Estadounidense (Spanish  and American). That blog was mostly meant to share the experiences my kids and I were having as we made our home in a new country. It was intended for our family and circle of friends back home and new ones on that side of the ocean. Espanidense thus dealt with all aspects of our lives including all the travel we were getting to do as a benefit of living in a part of the world where nations are small and packed together.

As I began to develop a taste for cooking — a passion developed from seeing all the products on offer in Europe’s great markets — the blog moved more in the direction of a food site. Later, I returned to painting, a hobby with which I had had a brief flirtation earlier in life. Painting and art consumed Espanidense entirely and so I decided to create a separate eponymous blog for my art. Frankly, I got a bit lazy and the updates trailed off considerably. During this time, my kids grew up, moved on and left me free to travel much more. And so, I thought, why not get back to blogging about my travel?


Zest And Gusto Kenn Naked YogaOnce it became clear what the voice of the website would be, it needed a name. A favorite quote and driving force in my life has always been “Life’s a banquet and most poor suckers are starving”. I try to gorge myself on life, but also I want to bring as many people to the banquet as I can. After all, “the more the merrier”. And I do so with zest. (Zest: keen relish; hearty enjoyment; gusto; an agreeable or piquant flavor imparted to something; liveliness or energy; animating spirit. –

This zest I bring to my cooking, art, running and hiking, my traveling, and my life as a whole. And gusto is very similar but adds that little touch more. (Gusto: hearty or keen enjoyment, as in eating or drinking, or in action or in general. Gusto is putting that zest into action.

I’ve been able to bring my passions, my zest, to life. I hope you have also. And if not, it is my fervent desire that you will soon discover that living is more than existing. Life is truly a banquet, one with many different dishes and courses on offer. The ones I have chosen may not appeal to you and that is perfectly fine. But do sample freely. And when you find those that bring zest to your life, live them with gusto.