11. Travel Tips & Food Tales with “The Black Bourdain” (Foodies Take Flight)

Show Notes

In this episode, we’ll learn more about Kene, also known as the “Black Bourdain” or  @Lokoskales on TikTok and Instagram. Kene is a world storyteller, solo traveler and social media influencer. He has traversed the globe for 15 years, and he is currently challenging himself to visit one to two new countries a month. When you’ve travelled this much, you have to come in contact with some delicious food — where do you think he found it? Join me as we discuss his favorite bites and delve into his tips having a successful trip by yourself. 

This is the third installment of Foodies Take Flight, a series where Jess talks with world travelers, expats and citizens of countries outside of the United States about their food experiences. Whether you have wanderlust and want inspiration for your next trip, or you’re a homebody who just wants a mental vacation, Foodies Take Flight will take you up and away.


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Please note that the following transcript is computer generated and only lightly edited. It may contain grammar and syntax errors.

Jess 0:11
Hi, it’s Jess. Welcome to another episode of The flaky foodie podcast. The only show with a discussion is delicious and they’re chatter to chew on. On today’s episode, we’re gonna take flight yet again as part of our Foodies Take Flight series, where I talk with people who’ve either been all over the world or who live all over the world about their food experiences. Today on the show, we have Lokoskales dubbed “the black bourdain” game, he has been traveling for 15 years, been to countless countries, and you probably have seen at least one of his social media videos and probably don’t even know it. So sit back and enjoy the flight. After a brief message, we’ll sit down and talk about food and solo travel with Lokoskales.

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Welcome back. Today we have Kene of lokoskales He’s @lokoskales on all social media platforms. He travels all around the world and has been doing so for about the past 15 years or so. So welcome to the show.

Kene/Lokoskales 2:53
Hey, Jess, pleasure to meet you. Thank you give me a chance to talk about some very interesting topics today.

Jess 2:57
Awesome. So how did you start this kind of becoming a world traveler? How did you how did that begin?

Kene/Lokoskales 3:03
Well, it’s kind of interesting. When I graduated from university, I had the opportunity to do an apprenticeship for entrepreneurship. So learning how to start your own businesses, and particularly was done overseas. So I had the opportunity to either do it in North America or Latin America, or do it overseas in the Middle East/Asia region. And so I was one of 80 African Americans who were given this opportunity after graduation. And I was the only one decide I want to learn how to grow a business overseas. So they said, really? I’m like, Yeah, and so they stationed me in the Middle East, in the United Arab Emirates. And that’s why I started my start, and I really love living overseas. And I just came back about two years ago.

Jess 3:46
Wow. So was it kind of like an instant love for for traveling? Or did it just take a little while to where you were maybe there a month and was just like, you know what, I like this.

Kene/Lokoskales 3:56
It was kind of instant. Because you know, for one thing, the minute that I moved overseas and lived in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, UAE, you know, I my mindset as to how life was really changed pretty quickly, because over there, you know, here in the States, people, they have this mindset of living to work, right. But overseas, whether you’re in UAE, or in China, Indonesia, or Malaysia, or even Russia, for that matter. The mindset is, I’m just working to live, but it’s not my life, you know, Sam was saying, and so it kind of gave me this perspective where I really wanted to visit each country in the other half of the world’s religions and how life was really like, you know, what food is really like, what was it like to really just relax on weekends and, you know, speak and see what how people were thinking, based compared to other countries around the world. And I fell in love with it, and I really didn’t want to come back. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic. I had to come back.

Jess 4:56
So how was the how was that adjustment?

Kene/Lokoskales 4:59
Oh, man. Huge, huge, huge. Well, I left 15 years ago. People were so much happier here. Yeah. And you know, when you get here now, it’s like folks are a lot more stressed, a lot more angry, a lot more confused as to what’s going on, and I get it. Right. But it’s totally different from how it was back when I graduated. So it’s taking some getting used to.

Jess 5:26
So where is home for you?

Kene/Lokoskales 5:29
So I’m originally from Houston, Texas, USA. Yes, yes.

Jess 5:33
So from the South to all over the world, that can be kind of a huge leap.

Kene/Lokoskales 5:37
It is. And, you know, the, and the crazy thing is, you know, African Americans are very rare overseas, outside of those African diaspora countries. So, you know, if I’m in the Middle East, or if I’m in Southeast Asia, or even in Europe, you know, people kind of turn their heads and I’m like, very tall, like six foot two or two meters. And so they’re like, Can I take a picture with you? It’s very random, but it happens a lot. And I’m like, Yeah, sure. And, you know, you see these photos where, yep, it’s very tall guy. The other person is like half your height. It’s just like, it’s a common thing. But it’s, it’s funny to see and it’s really a joy to enjoy. So awesome.

Jess 6:17
So on all your social media, you have Black Bordain in your about me. And that’s after the late Anthony Bourdain. So where did that name come from? Is he one of your inspirations?

Kene/Lokoskales 6:30
He was originally I followed his career from the beginning when he was a chef, all the way through when he started his TV shows. And, you know, he, there was an article he wrote, for the times A while back, where he talked about privilege, right? Where he understood he had the opportunity to really show the world to people based on his privilege. I think the difference between me and him is, I have the opportunity to provide that world view travel expert perspective of life overseas, from a black perspective, right? You know, I’m sure you know, black travel is like over over $140 billion industry, but we’re the lowest demographic when it comes to the amount of travel done, right. So having an opportunity to show, you know, African Americans or even Africans in the African diasporic countries, what it’s like to travel, what is that experience like? What is life like for people who actually live in these countries, right, it really means a lot to them. And that’s a lot of folks in my community really appreciate. I don’t do like luxury travel or anything like that. I just really provide that very memorable, personal aspect that people really love, just like Bourdain did, but a lot deeper, you understand. And a lot of folks appreciate that globally. But he really inspired me a lot to my journey.

Jess 7:51
So tell me a little bit more about the most recent countries that you’ve been to where have you been to necessarily like in the last six months or so? Oh, time in the past.

Kene/Lokoskales 8:03
I had a laugh, because, you know, when the when the pandemic started, I kind of promised myself if I ever survived it, that I was gonna make sure I saw the world and shared it as much as possible. And I started my journey sharing that about seven months ago on social media. Yeah. And so I said, I want to make sure I traveled to at least one or two new countries a month, right out of my own pocket. So you know, this past month, I’m right now I’m currently in La Paz, Bolivia, the capital of Bolivia. I’ve been here for the last two weeks. Before that I was in Colombia and Cartagena. Prior to that I celebrated New Years in both Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and parati, Brazil. In December, I was in Peru all over so Lima, Waka Cina Cusco. And then prior to that, I spent a lot of time in the Middle East. So I was in Jordan. So Petra Wadi Rum, and that’s the Dead Sea area and in Egypt, both Cairo and Siwa, for a while. Yeah. And yeah, that same thing, just really focusing on meeting people locally, really dive into enjoying what the street food is like is I don’t eat it, like look for restaurants. When I go to these places, these countries, I like really hit up the street food vendors. So like really hands on seeing how they cook it, talking to them about what the communities are like, what their life is like. And it really it’s a big turn off for me to do those type of things. So, yeah. And next month in March, I just posted a poll on social media. I’m actually heading to Eastern Europe. It’s kind of funny. You know, this war with Russia in Ukraine was happening. I was actually planning to visit Ukraine and oh, man, I have a couple quite a number quite good. Following of Ukrainians, they’re asking, well, it’s gonna be coming. And, you know, they’re amongst five or six countries I was visiting in March and it’s kind of broke my heart. I took a break from social media once the invasion happened because it kind of felt like heartless doing like posts and content while the invasion was happening. So I just started today posting stories just to see just to say alone, it’s a I’m still here. But it’s tough. It’s tough. I’ll be in Eastern Europe next month. I won’t be able to visit Ukraine, obviously, but I’ll be visiting for sure. Hungary, Romania, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, and Poland. I know, a couple of countries are some refugees. But you know, some folks who asked me to go there and just show what life is like over there despite what’s going on in that part of the world. So

Jess 10:50
So what country are countries in the ones that you visited so far, where his food kind of resonated the most with you because I don’t like to say that the food is the best. It’s just what kind of stuck out on your palate.

Kene/Lokoskales 11:04
So recently, I probably say, Peru, and Bolivia,

Jess 11:10
I just I interviewed gallivanting wellness, and she just mentioned how great the food in Peru is. So

Kene/Lokoskales 11:17
yeah, yes. Yeah, it’s kind of interesting. I visited Colombia the first time back in June of last year. And you would think there would be like more. I know, strong strange to say Colombian inspired cuisine. But no, the dominant cuisine in Colombia was Peruvian really, right? Yes, it was, it wasn’t Caribbean food. It was Peruvian, right. And no matter if you’re in Midian, or an Cartana, you know, the larger cities and a Colombia. I was like, This is really weird. And when I went to these Peruvian restaurants, I understood why. I mean, the meat was good spectacularly, you know, the compliments of vegetables, the way they seasoned it, right? Of course, always drink a nice glass of wine with it. It was fantastic. And so I told myself, you know, when I have a chance, I’m going to visit Peru and really see what it’s like actually central there. And when I did, I was blown away. When I visit Cusco, I visited one of the number one restaurants down there in Peru. And the thing that really stuck out to me, I didn’t have beef while I was there, right? Their specialty was how they cooked llama meat. Okay, so you can imagine, here I’m in this restaurant, it’s alongside the river down there. Next in the Machu Picchu region. I’m just tasting the softest, softest cooked, llama meat well seasoned I’ve ever had in my life, right. And it’s probably the second or third time having this thing. And I couldn’t even tell as llama until they told me it was right. And then when I went down to Bolivia, I was in a Unuyi, which is I think about 10 hours south of the capital of La Paz. My tour guide there Jose, not only was he a tour guide for the region, but he also raised llama and grew quinoa So for lunch. He he asked me if I ate meat. I was like, Yeah, a little bit. And he said, Okay, the meat is I like no, don’t tell me what the meat is. I just, I’ll try it right because I don’t have any biases against whatever. Right. So it was a it was, it was a meat that came from this farm, righ t, an animal that he grew vegetable medly Right. I think it’s a mirepoix. And then with quinoa, right? And so he told me everything you see on this plate comes from my farm, right? I was like okay, so I tried the meat. I was like, Man, this is fantastic. Meat is very succulent. Well season. What is it? He’s like, it’s llama from my farm I raised. I was like, why? Are you kidding me? Are you for real? He’s like, Yeah, and then I tried the quinoa? And I’m a big fan of quinoa. I have it every morning for breakfast. But this one it wasn’t as grainy. It was very soft, right? Like almost like regular rice. And he was like yeah, this quinoa codes my former as well. I was like, Man, you got some great techniques for how you grew your stuff. He’s like yeah, I’m proud of what I what I do. So yeah, but Bolivia and Peru really opened my eyes

Jess 14:24
I was just going to ask you how fresh grown quinoa would taste as opposed to what we get to United States.

Kene/Lokoskales 14:32
Night and day, night and day, they do some extra they do some extra I tell you what they do some extra processing here in the States really upsets me yeah. And I have to deal with it every time put the quinoa in my mouth. But you can tell where it’s a lot lighter over there from the original source. Yeah, compared to when it gets to you know, import it into the into the states. Yeah, the big difference.

Jess 14:55
So what are some other dishes — since you’ve most recently been in Bolivia, what are some other dishes that you eat in there to have been like delicious? Or on your top? 10?

Kene/Lokoskales 15:07
Uh, I would say for now definitely the llama, llama is very common here. Yeah, for sure. But outside of that, you know, it’s funny. My favorite dishes don’t necessarily come from Australia just noticed that come from this part of the world north of South America. It’s more in the southeast region, where I really just, I feel like I’m in heaven. Whenever I visit these countries. Jeez because the way they do their sauces, the rice, vegetables, even the meat and fish are totally different. They’re very moreā€¦ they feel like more family. Sunday family dinner type food, right? There’s a lot more. You can really feel the love in it when it’s been cooked. Yeah. So.

Jess 15:53
So what’s been like your most adventurous food experience?

Kene/Lokoskales 15:58
Ah, jeez. Seven years ago, when I was in northeast China, I was at one of these family restaurants very small restaurant. And they had a back they had the vegetables. Everything is shared. Yeah. And they brought up the meat for everyone to share. And I was like, this tastes almost like, kind of interesting. I couldn’t tell what the meat was right? It looked like chicken. Was it chicken? I asked is is this this chicken? Oh, no, it’s not chicken. Just try it. And I was like, Okay, this is kind of good. I was like, so what does it matter? Like, it’s cow brain. I was like,

Jess 16:45
and it tasted like chicken. That’s very interesting.

Like, well, it’s the how they seasoned, it though. Right? I didn’t get to taste it. While it was the the original meat itself just cooked by itself. So yeah, that was that was probably the most adventurous dish I’ve had so far in my life. So far.

This is the big question. Did you have seconds?

Kene/Lokoskales 17:10
I mean, the way they could. I mean, I just said, You know what? I’m just gonna cuz it was it was cook like ground chicken. Right. And so it’s like, does everything is served family style. I just took a scoop of the meat scoop of the vegetables scoop of the sauce, put it in my bowl, and I just ate it. I was like, I was like, Oh, Enh. Just started digging into it. Yeah.

Jess 17:35
So you mentioned that you were home for a little while because of the pandemic or the Panini, I like to call it. So were there any kind of global ingredients that you could find, you know, back home that you kind of add it to your cooking? while you were at home? Or are you a big cook at all at home?

Kene/Lokoskales 17:53
Yeah, of course, of course, just like Bourdain, I cook everything at home. The only time I go out is maybe on weekends, or if I’m traveling, right. But I cook everything, fresh breakfast, lunch and dinner. I do a lot of meal prep, usually on the weekends that I don’t travel, right. So I used to cook two or three meals on Saturdays and Sundays, right? I all I have a lot of international food stores near my place, whether it’s Asian, Indian, African, available, and from there, I usually get the ingredients, spices, sometimes some meats as well, based on what it’s based on, but I may need or sauce for sauces or additives, right. For example, guan zhen is not going to be available in HEB or Walmart, right, you got to get to go to local food store, and also food store get this other things. So I’m pretty picky about my ingredients. And I really liked spending the time on weekends, especially in the afternoons, evenings, popping some jazz, open up the recipes and start cranking out the fire and cooking. So I really love it.

Jess 19:03
So you kind of mentioned that when you eat out don’t do luxury restaurants, you eat street food. So kind of how do you budget while you’re taking these trips? How does How do you keep on your stay within your food budget? And do you have like any tips for somebody who may be traveling and you know they have to put their food or what they eat on a budget?

Kene/Lokoskales 19:22
Yeah, I think one of the biggest things is you need to do the research before you travel. Because they’re based on the country. And of course the cost of living over there. You can eat very cheaply. For example, in Bolivia, you can eat very cheaply, Peru, you can eat very cheaply, very easily if you want to. Even in Brazil, you can eat cheaply, right? And still get good quality food, right? But it’s also based upon your taste level as to how much you want to spend. So if you do your research, you can find those locations, not the sort of street vendors you have to ask when you get there, where to go. But for certain restaurants, you can find some budget options, right? But if you’re really Looking for like the, they call the $3 for dollar $5 $5 sign levels, you’re not really budgeting anymore, right? So I always do my research as to which, whatever foods I want to check out in the, in the regions, or cities or towns that I’m visiting, I always check out the recommendation checkout recommendations, I asked around on social media. So this is where I really have that close connection with my community. I asked folks that live in those regions has a very global community. A Where do you recommend checking out? Are there any street vendors or just areas where they are you recommend for me to check out and from there, I share the information, do the research, and I just slice a certain amount my travel budget for that, right? But you can, you know, even if you don’t have a lot of money while traveling, you can eat pretty well in different countries, relatives from the east west or south america regions. Yeah, pretty well.

Jess 20:59
So your solo traveler traveler most of the time? Do you have any general safety tips or any tips to enjoy your trip when you’re traveling alone?

Unknown Speaker 21:08
Yes, for one, I know, I know, I mentioned it before, please, for goodness sakes do your research you need to and what I mean by that is socially now with the Panini going on, I’m going to use your term, Jess. you need to really understand what’s required of you, before you leave from your home country, you need to know what’s required of you, before you even leave the country that you’re about to visit, you need to know what the security is like, in those city towns or countries where you’re visiting, you need to understand which areas you should stay in socially as a foreigner, right. And you also need to understand from a health perspective, you know, what is okay to eat or drink from a quality perspective. For example, in Bolivia, the water quality here is not very good at all. I mean, I had locals literally telling me a do not even touch whatever comes out the top. Okay, so grab a huge bottle of water from the local food stores, it’s cheap. And just do just deal with that during the day, right. And I also recommend, of course, always keeping a copy of like your passport, and your your testing information available, especially now. You know, it’s very often where a local official may stop you, right? And ask for your paperwork and see what’s going on. Right. So whenever you’re traveling between cities with public transportation, right? Yeah, yeah. But please just do your research know what you’re getting into before you visit countries. Because you know, it’s funny, there are a lot more younger travelers, they’re going out now. They’re new to travel. Yeah. And one of the biggest mistakes they make is not checking and doing the research. And that ends up getting to get to them into a lot of trouble, especially when they’re trying to get out of the country.

Jess 23:00
Yeah. So what about just kind of enjoying your trip? You know, a lot of people think, Oh, I’m going to be lonely. If I go here if I travel by myself, how do you kind of prevent that from happening?

Unknown Speaker 23:11
Not at all. I think so, I think I’ve had the biggest the best experiences traveling alone compared to being with someone or with the group. The reason for that is, it gives you an opportunity to really, and we mentioned, I mentioned it earlier, really get that full perspective as to what life is really like, in these countries you’re visiting, right? And it also gives you an opportunity to if you do your research, to really see everything that that country or city is all about right? Outside the landmarks, you understand, right? So you know, if you’re going to be solo traveling, I mean, if you’re on, for example, social media, I mean, just reach out to some of these influencers, or people that live locally and say, Hey, I’m gonna be visiting your country. X, Y date, would you be interested in showing me around, right? And all these folks are be very open to that and be very, and very happy to do it. You know, cuz like, every, every time I come to these countries, or I’m about to go to these countries, you know, I get messages and say, Hey, welcome to Morocco. Yeah, or welcome to Kenya, Tanzania. People are very welcoming. Yeah, they’re not scary. Yeah, they’re just people, right. And they like it when people from another country wants to come visit because they’re very proud of their country. And they like to share what it has to offer compared to what may be shared on media or what may be shared by word of mouth. They’d like to show people that coming into the country, what they and the country are all about, right? And you don’t get that experience if you’re just traveling solo, right? If you travel to a group, you’re really just doing a touristy vibe experiencing and I wouldn’t say it’s shallow, but it really doesn’t give you the full experience of seeing what that country or city or town has to offer for you if you traveled solo,

Jess 24:55
okay. And you kind of mentioned this earlier that you cook a lot. What is something that Like, hey, you got to kind of, especially with somebody who may be like American cook with American seasonings and all of that what’s one kind of seasoning the way you like, hey, put it put all the Lawry’s down. Try this

Kene/Lokoskales 25:21
I’ll say the easiest one is America, Americans cannot handle their chilies. And what I mean by that is chopped chilies, you know, from different regions in Southeast Asia. Yeah. Chilies really make the difference in a lot of cuisines whether it’s Indonesian Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, you Malaysian, right? Because a lot of a lot of Americans, they think, oh, I’ll just add my cayenne pepper or Cajun seasonings. I’ll put a little bit, maybe I’ll put drop a habanero. And if I’m trying to use a Mexican sauce, and they think that’s spicy, no, no, when you put in a chili, it makes a difference in your digestive system. Right? And if you actually put in the chilies properly, it actually improves a flavor what your’e cooking. Right? So that I’ll say I’ll keep it simple for folks. The chili chopped chilies make a huge difference between American cuisine and international cuisine. For sure.

Jess 26:21
Well that’s all I have, thank you so much for being a part of the show. I really enjoy talking with you and learning about kind of world cuisine. So where can people find you on social media?

Kene/Lokoskales 26:33
Yeah. So I’m on all platforms. Twitter, YouTube, TikTok Instagram, biggest platform is Instagram. My handle is Lokoskales, LOKOSKALES And my focus, like I mentioned before, it’s really about that true experience of visiting and seeing the world from local or native persons on eyes. But yeah, thank you so much. Just I really enjoy the conversation. I’m a big foodie fan, obviously, and to be able to meet somebody that I can really speak II on through really, I enjoyed this conversation this Sunday. So

Jess 27:10
thank you so much. Okay, everyone that was a local scales, he know where to find him on Instagram and all the other platforms. And we’re gonna thank him so much for being here today. Alrighty, everybody eat something delicious and treat this episode like gossip or the gospel and tell somebody about it. Alrighty, have a great week.

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