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Exxe Alta Parrilla: A Gaucho in Baja!

 April 12, 2023 at 2:17 PM PDT

S1: It's the early 2000 and a 25 year old Argentinian student is traveling around South America , enjoying the freedom of being a young person with savings.

S2: His money served him well as the Argentinian currency is on par with the American dollar. He could travel and live like a king. The future seemed bright.

S1: But after a year , things started to get more expensive. He called home.

S2: But what he heard was.

S3: Never that much inflation. A la la la la la situacion para sa.

S1: Our currency is dog shit. You can't buy anything. It's great that you left.

S2: A full fledged monetary crisis is ransacking Argentina.

S4: Complicado para todos los osos and.

S2: This is like the one.

S1: Nicknamed X.

S2: In Argentinian Immigrant. Now based in Canada , Mexico. He says that before the crisis that became known as Carlito.

S1: Little Corral in Spanish.

S2: Everything was cheap when buying with Argentinian pesos.

S1: But he recalls being in Chile when he noticed he suddenly couldn't afford the cigarettes he would often buy. Heck , he could barely afford the air he was breathing. The money that gave him plenty was now worth a fraction of what it was before.

S5: Brazil for Ejemplo , Argentina.

S1: As the Argentinian peso lost value , it caused a panic and a bank run ensued.

S5: Plata , Argentina.

S2: That's when the government decided to LA.

S1: To corral in Spanish people.

S2: Into withdrawing only $250 per week.

S6: Limited to pesos per se. But the effective.

S5: Way in dollars in Los Bancos.

S2: The folks who had their savings in dollars in the Argentinian banks couldn't get their dollars out.

S1: The banks could only return dollars in pesos highly inflated worth only a fraction of the value of the dollar. Pesos.

S5: Pesos. Pesos. El Gobierno.

S1: On January 6th , 2002 , the parity between the dollar and the Argentinian peso was officially annulled. The Argentinian peso collapsed.

S2: This sent the country into a downward spiral with massive nationwide layoffs.

S1: Social chaos was inevitable.

S7: Primeiro de manera muy Violeta.

S8: Hold on to me. I know the pagan.

S9: Come on.

S2: The crisis ultimately caused hundreds of thousands of Argentineans to leave Argentina in the early 2000.

S5: Particularly for Argentina.

S1: And when the crisis reached its peak , exile was in Chile visiting for a friend's wedding. He decided to prolong his sabbatical and stay in Chile for.

S5: But in August.

S2: He worked to earn Chilean pesos , and eventually.

S1: He met his wife and. Girls.

S5: Girls.

S2: And didn't look back.

S1: He never went back.

S2: He realized nothing awaited him back home.

S1: So he continued his stay in Chile to continue working until. An.

S10: An.

S2: Opportunity befell his newlywed Chilean wife , a job in a remote land on the other side of the continent.

S1: Today's episode is about how a young guy from rural Argentina ended up in Sanada and how he makes a living promoting the Gaucho lifestyle in Baja. It's all about asado empanadas and rural living.

S2: Don't go away. It's about to get country.

S1: From KPBS and PRX. This is Port of Entry where we.

S2: Tell crossborder stories that connect us.

S1: I'm Alan Lilienthal.

S2: And I'm Natalie Sales. You are listening to KPBS , Sport of Entry. XO remembers what his friends and loved ones would say.

S5: Amigos in Argentina. But in the end , he said they.

S2: Had to leave.

S1: What do you do in those circumstances ? Where do you even go and how do you start over ? But X had kind of a silver bullet to avoid the fallout of the crisis in Argentina.

S2: He had a good excuse not to return to his country. His excuse.

S5: Maybe being he will.

S11: See Javier.

S1: His newlywed wife.

S2: When they were traveling on their honeymoon in Chile , his new wife got a job offer as a teacher in a montessori school in Mexico.

S12: Telefonica Except for Mexico.

S1: One tiny detail , though the job was in a remote town on the other side of Latin America in.

S2: Baja , California.

S13: La Ciudad de Fondo es la Ciudad de Baja , California. Mexico.

S14: The most important coastal town of Baja , California , is in Sonora , Situated on Todos Santos Bay , approximately 60 miles south of the United States border. And.

S15: And. First.

S16: First.

S1: In Mexico in the early 2000s , was on the brink of a change that would transform it from a rural farming economy into a formidable tourist destination.

S2: Just east of the port city of Antonella was a small but prospering wine country.

S1: The Guadalupe Valley A Valley.

S2: Over the next two decades , the industry surrounding this attraction began to grow and eventually boom.

S1: Food , hospitality , health , nightlife , outdoor sports and real estate all began to grow exponentially. Many would build their livelihoods around it.

S2: As the Argentinian economy disintegrated , Excel found he had sort of a soft landing in this foreign land.

S1: When he arrived in Sanada in 2002 , he quickly picked up a position in sales for a local seafood exporter.

S2: He was able to put food on the table with ease and support his wife. And soon a third member of the family.

S1: In Sanada was the land of plenty.

S5: Either the popular or reconcile Del Vino and the Trace and the Know.

S1: According to X , this boom opened up a lot of opportunities for new ventures and the ace up his sleeve , his gaucho upbringing.

S2: That's an Argentinian cowboy.

S1: For those who don't know.

S5: Practicamente un Pueblo , Chico Libre de la Province.

S2: You see , XY grew up in a rural town in Argentina called San Carlos de Bolivar outside of Buenos Aires. It was a small town surrounded by fields and grasslands.

S5: Those paternal maternal willows , they say , on Mars and Europa.

S1: His grandparents were country people from.

S2: Europe , Italy and Spain.

S1: And they brought that lifestyle with them when they immigrated to Argentina in the 19 tens , fleeing the First World War.

S5: So de la gente Argentina.

S11: San Carlos de Bolivar is part of the prairie.

S1: Grasslands west of the Parana River. The flatlands make it an exceptional place for agriculture and raising all sorts of cattle , which is what his family's livelihood was built around.

S5: It is El Campo.

S1: Some of the best beef in the world comes from these grasslands.

S5: Start in Brno , in Los Campos de Mi Abuelo or Abuela.

S2: Excel recalls tending the land , raising farm animals and working in the fields when he was in school.

S5: Tractor barn.

S1: He remembers the first motorized vehicle he learned to drive was a tractor.



S2: When I was eight , I was watching Hannah Montana on Disney Channel. I'm still watching it.

S5: I see her vertigo. I see Animal control Del Campo. Fantastic.

S1: He also learned how to ride horses and tend to them and other livestock. He would hurt cattle on horseback into the grassland and back to their pen.

S2: He smiles this. He remembers this. Fantastic. I said.

S5: Okay , do we must win a super Linda for Cinco anos animals ? Fantastic.

S2: It was fantastic.

S1: X says with a somewhat nostalgic tone.

S2: It was a beautiful upbringing in a tightly knit family.

S1: Always surrounded by siblings , cousins , uncles , aunts and grandparents.

S2: Most of his immediate and extended family all based their life around the farm and life in the field. Raising cattle with a tightly knit family meant that a sales were an intricate part of the family.

S5: In El Campo. La comida. Typical Asado Classic. No , no , no.

S11: It's an. Asado.

S1: Asado.

S2: A roast in Spanish.

S1: Is an Argentinian barbecue. They usually involve big and thick cuts of meat that get cooked slowly over an open fire.

S2: In Mexico , we have garnish , but it's way different.

S1: Warning to the vegans in the audience. Graphic description ahead.

S2: Sometimes the carcasses are skewered on a small metal cross and left over a pit roast , or sometimes they get butchered into smaller pieces and placed on the grill.

S1: Delicious Extra cost sacrificing animals. Referring to a £500 livestock like pig , sheep or goat in a sort of butchery event and either cooking the whole animal or big parts of it over an open fire pit with wood and coals.

S2: That's in Argentina and South Carolina.

S5: And Los Indians is. Julio Tanto La familia como la Matera. Those animals , those grands para hacer , sharknado and those harmonies tipico la familia.

S1: A couple of pigs would be sacrificed and a big family barbecue would ensue where all sorts of different preserves were made from the leftovers , chorizo , cold cuts , ham and other derivatives. Nothing was wasted.

S5: El conocimiento para para hacer , cuatro semanas para los animals.

S2: The older generation would take command , while the young ones would play first or second mate in the operation. The Gaucho lifestyle is living off the land , surrounded by farm animals , tending to the fields and making the most of what the land has to give you. Gauchos are basically Argentinian buckaroos living.

S1: Off the fat of the land.

S2: All right , take it easy.

S1: Cowboys are. We'll be back after a short break. You are listening to KPBS Port of Entry.

S2: AXS hosted us at his home in El Salsa , a neighborhood about six miles north of.

S1: The White House. From the main road is through a canyon and marshes that make for beautiful scenery.

S2: Once on his property , we are greeted by his dogs , a healthy pack of six.

S1: His front yard is a courtyard at the bottom of a slope , surrounded by little cabins where a large cement table sits under the shade of trees and a makeshift canopy.

S2: Along the slope , you see different fruit trees , lush with green from the recent rains. Standing ten feet tall there , flowers blooming.

S1: X's house sits in the middle of the slope , overlooking the watershed of El Sao Sal , with a horizon where you can see the ocean. Makeshift steps trail down to the courtyard and off to the left of the canopy. Three big grills are parked next to each other , along with a brick oven In between them. He let the coals roar.

S2: He had us over for Asado.

S1: And that's Argentinian tea.

S2: As we had our first sip , X spoke about settling in El salsa 20 years ago.

S5: Nah nah nah , nah , nah , nah.

S2: When I first moved here , this area was just a watershed creek , river and slopes. There was nothing this deep into the canyon.

S1: He recalls living in a house he rented at the opening of the canyons where cows would peek through his window. Roadrunners would rest on his porch.

S2: Random fauna sneaking into his kitchen.

S1: It was really rural.

S2: Turns out there are no services that reach these deep into the coastal watershed. The only service that reaches from the city is electricity. And that took a while to get to them.

S1: But there is no sewage system and no city water system.

S5: No , I you know , I read Agua Punto entonces de la Casa con bomba Punto.

S1: So exit collects water through a well and siphons it up the slope into his house with a couple of pumps that he activates twice a week.

S2: Then , as he uses it , Gravity pulls it all down.

S5: Like Tengo La parte de Las Vegas de Casa Negras. Those Agua Dos Tengo dos.

S1: Our producer Julio , is a wannabe outdoorsman.

S2: Even though he rarely goes out. Sorry.

S1: Sorry. He left a stranded waiting for him at a play last week. Hey , I.

S5: Wasn't feeling good. And trafficker. Right ? Yeah.

S1: Yeah , whatever. Later.

S5: Later.

S2: He fell in love with axes off the grid living.


S5: I mean , yeah. I mean , the homemade sewage treatment plant is what blew my mind. I mean , he has three tanks buried underneath a slope , all in consecutive order , and each of them receives the waste. The first bin has a micro plants and nutrients and bacteria that it's ready.

S1: Let's talk about the food.

S5: I'm sure. Good. Okay. Por la. There you go.

S2: Chico is a fundamental part of X's upbringing and identity. He refers to it like vocation.

S1: That's vocation in Spanish saying.

S5: Be inclusive otro Lugar was an Argentine in. Sanada.

S1: Sanada. He would have people over for an asado on the weekends , or his friends would invite him over to a carne asada to ultimately have him take over grill duty. Given his barbecue prowess.

S2: Each time he would go , his friends try to talk him into starting his own food business.

S5: Empresa de Argentina Negocio confirm that.

S2: He already had a stable source of income with his job as a salesman. At first he didn't really see a need for it , but after a lot of pushing from friends , he went for it.

S5: Stick con La Economicamente Amiga star Cantina Marcella Salvo.

S1: He joined forces with an Argentinian compatriot that had fled Argentina during the same. In crisis. And together they opened a restaurant and catering business. Creamos.

S5: Creamos. Eventos de nada. Yeah.

S1: And they had a couple of food trucks in different gastro collectives. Then they opened a private restaurant in Sanada and then another one in Bali. Yeah.

S5: In Privado and Privado for uncollectible E to two D.

S2: But eventually , after about four years , the restaurant and his partnership ended. It boomed for a while , but then had to shut down.

S1: That's kind of the way it is in the valley. Even with the tourist boom , things open and shut down all the time.

S5: He continued. I Empresa Siete.

S2: Alta Parrilla excess.

S1: Catering business.

S2: Was born from those experiences in 2017. He continues serving at all sorts of events , from private weddings to big festivals like this recent beer festival in Sonoma , where he usually sets up two stands and outsells other establishments. I think I.

S1: Actually tried one of those ones at the beer festival one year , went to Lengua plate. It was delicious.

S5: But if you know da servicio privado si para matrimonio aniversario.

S1: He prefers the freedom that catering provides not to be rooted in a single location. Our producer Julio joined him for day two of the festival X managed two stands at different spots where he sold 1200 ribbons , minus the two which are Producer.

S13: X said that Shorty Pan was the best friend of the beer and I had to prove it right.



S2: My cousin says that success comes down to choosing the right spot to set up your food stamp.

S5: Location , location , location , location.

S1: And he was right. His stand was right in the middle of a busy intersection at the venue. And right after our producers stuffed his face , the customers started piling up. Hey , it was delicious. Okay.

S13: Okay. Get off my back.

S5: The local is Primero Segundo.

S17: Terceiro is obligation. Obligation.

S2: Obligation. When X is not catering , he leads workshops and grilling classes for those interested in the Gaucho style of grilling.

S1: He soon hopes to launch workshops in a more permanent site in Santa. Connecticut.

S17: Connecticut. To the amenable.

S2: As a guerrilla nexus Courtyard fired up. He brought a number of different entrees to prepare on a cutting board. We saw chorizo , empanadas and a couple cuts of meat.

S1: He placed the cuts in the chorizo on the grill and shoved the empanadas into the oven. We helped set the table with the cutlery and the condiments.

S2: One of which was our favorite. Chimichurri.

S11: Chimichurri.

S5: But only mom.

S1: According to X , the base of any chimichurri must include at least parsley , garlic and a neutral oil. Some add vinegar or lime juice. Others add dried crushed chili. Some cook the chimichurri. Others leave it fresh. You have to dice everything finely , mix it together and season to taste. Its a fresh acid herbal contrast to a greasy cut of meat or sausage.

S2: The chorizo looked grilled to perfection. It was time for the bread and to stuff our faces and. Corey Pan is a combination of the words chorizo.

S1: Meaning Argentinian sausage and pan bread.

S2: Corey Pan.


S2: Much.

S18: Much. Is.

S17: Is.

S5: Mr. de Vacuna.

S1: The chorizo they use follows a 40 , 40 , 20 ratio , 40% beef , 40% pork , and 20% fat. His recipe includes some Argentinian spices.

S5: So you think the Spaniards go.



S17: Didn't get empanadas , you know , I got the.

S2: Empanadas are a staple in Argentinian cuisine. They make them.

S1: Out of different fillings depending on the region.

S5: Caracteristica de la Region. The Cantina Muchisimo.

S2: The topicals are minced meat with veggies , ham and.

S1: Cheese , among. Others.

S2: Others. We each had a couple of empanadas.

S1: Julio had nine.

S2: Yes , he had nine. Yes , he had to stop.

S1: Sorry , Tarragon.

S2: Oh , you know the X is family used to own and operate a small empanada factory in La Plata where he would help his family prepare and sell them.

S5: In La la obra. Todo la mass.

S1: Local mas and on to the main course the meat.

S2: We let the meat rest five minutes and then exit proceeded to slice and sprinkle some salt over them. And it was delicious.

S1: Argentinian Salt Bay. Yes.

S2: Yes.

S1: I share the simple intricacies of cooking meat over live fire.

S5: Me , abuela , me or me Padre. Some Buenos. Asado.

S11: Asado.

S1: Only require three ingredients. Your cut of choice. Hopefully a good one. Salt and the open fire. Everything else is just either unnecessary or a condiment like the chimichurri. They aren't essential.

S5: Calidad de la Asado Sal Fuego. Not so. Yeah.

S2: Our Mexican corona are still about the meat , but it's more about what goes around the meat and into the taco. The salsa , the Whac-A-Mole , the pico de gallo , the beans , the cheese.

S1: But Argentinian asado are just about a big thick cut of steak to be eaten by itself , maybe with some chimichurri and a little bit of salad on the side. Not necessary. Yeah.

S5: Yeah. Si la la la la.

S1: Excess dogs run around a nearby field. There's a couple of cats and free range chickens there as well. The dogs are commanded by.

S2: The matriarch.

S1: Who exclaims , snatches food from unsuspecting and unattended guests.

S5: We are going.

S18: I say.

S1: You know , I've actually made some chimichurri before. I like adding cilantro.

S11: Who , me. Asked.

S2: Asked.

S1: Was that a grade school joke ? Yes.

S2: Did you.

S11: Like it ? So immature.

S2: Oh , my God. Let's move on , shall we ? To what ? The meat , mijo. After our asado feast and with the matter still flowing , we ask X say what he misses most about Argentina. And he had a sort of a confession.

S1: He's visited home numerous times , but never really longed to move back.

UU: To a normal job. And I'm so sorry. No , I don't know.

S2: But something happened. He visited Argentina during the height of the last World Cup.

S1: And something changed in him.

S2: It was the first time in 20 years that he was drawn back to his home country.

S5: Of Argentina and Los Ultimos anos con El Lugar. De.

S17: De. Los.

S5: Los.

S17: Estados Unidos con. La.

S5: La.

S17: Familia algunos partidos Argentina.

S1: You see , soccer.

S11: Or football.

S1: Is a big deal in Argentina.

UU: Know that you love. You know. You know. You know I love that they say how. And an easy goal.

S1: And Argentina was crowned champions on this last tournament in Qatar.

S2: Xa is still starstruck about the feat and the feeling he felt about going home during this time.

S1: The stakes were high. This cup.

S13: Mercy , Mercy , Mercy. Mercy. Muzzle. Leo.

S1: Well , it was his last chance to nab the championship for his home country after two consecutive failures. Montell can win the World Cup for.

S9: Argentina with this kick.

UU: As Lionel Messi. Argentina.

S9: Argentina. You can cry. You can cry. Tears of joy for Lionel Messi. He is finally , finally.

UU: We're going to build.

S1: And he did. The prophecy fulfilled. Argentina nabbed their third star. People filled the streets for an incredibly joyful celebration that made X want to stay in Argentina to actually stay and live. A feeling he hasn't had in over 20 years since he's lived in Santa. Yeah.

S17: Yeah. I mean , la posibilidad in Argentina. Por la. Pero mucho mas. Como es para mi.

S2: But unfortunately. Argentina's glory is still overshadowed by the country's economic woes. All he hears is.

S3: Some pure take on de la Rua.

S1: When he calls home , he senses the same feeling of uncertainty that he did 20 years back. Oh.

S3: Oh. Sorry.

S17: Sorry. Inflation coming.

S3: I think the market has some sort of. Okay. Or not. Okay.

S5: Okay. Okay.

S3: Okay. Okay. No. As we.

S11: Speak , Argentina.

S1: Is dealing with hyperinflation of 100%. Hunting for. Bargains.

S2: Bargains.

S1: Shoppers in. Argentina.

S2: Argentina.

S9: Carefully compare prices as the cost of living almost doubled last year.

S13: Maybe before you used to buy clothes and food. Now you prioritize food more and buy a few less clothes.

S9: Inflation hit a staggering 94.8% in 2022.

S17: You know.

S3: I don't know , but I know.

S2: Their currency is at 200 Argentinian pesos to one American dollar.

S1: Not much has changed for folks. Many Argentinians are still moving out trying to find a better life somewhere else.

S5: So we must consider Argentina.

S2: Argentina believes that Argentina is still not a country for young people.

S5: Is the source of. Excesses.

S2: Excesses. He is filled with gratitude for the country that took him in. He thinks this great land that gave him plenty.

S1: In the 20 years he's been here , he's only received welcomes and open doors. Mexican folks don't care where you're from. They welcome you either way.

S2: At least those in Santa do. He says in Sanada is Mikasa. This episode of Port of Entry was written and produced by Julio Cesar Ortiz. Franco.

S1: Luca Vega is technical producer and sound designer.

S2: Adrian Lobos is media production specialist.

S1: Elisa Barba is our editor.

S2: Lisa Morissette is director of audio programming and operations , and John Decker is senior director of Content development.

S1: This program is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting , a private corporation funded by the American people.

S2: This project was also made possible with support from California Humanities , a nonprofit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit Call Home Talk Soy.

S11: Alan Lilienthal.

S2: Natalie Gonzalez. Nos.

S11: Nos. Vemos. Pronto.

Exxe Alta Parrilla: A Gaucho in Baja!

Exxe Caivano is one of Valle de Guadalupe’s early food entrepreneurs. His passion for life is to show people what the Argentinian Asado is all about. Exxe talks to us about growing up in rural Buenos Aires, migrating to Ensenada, seeing the region grow, and shares an unexpected change that only fútbol could bring out of him.

Tune in!



Port of Entry is back after a long hiatus and is excited to share a whole new set of stories with you, this time centered around food and migration.

This season we share several stories about how food has changed cities in the borderlands, including episodes on folks who have made Valle de Guadalupe, the famous wine region of northern Baja, their home.

Follow hosts Natali Gonzalez and Alan Lilienthal as they sit down with these fascinating people who share their personal and family stories. Listen in and join us!

If you like this episode, show us some love @portofentrypod


From KPBS, PRX and California Humanities, “Port of Entry” tells cross-border stories that connect us.

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“Port of Entry'' is written, produced and directed by Julio C. Ortiz Franco. Luca Vega is our Technical Producer and Sound Designer.

Alisa Barba is our editor.

Episodes are translated by Julio C. Ortiz Franco and Natali Gonzales.

Elma Gonzalez and M.G. Perez are our Spanish Editors.

Lisa Morrisette-Zapp is Director of Audio Programming and Operations and John Decker is the Director of Content Development.

This program is made possible, in part, by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.