Expo, or World Expositions….finally we got the chance, last tuesday, to visit this year edition in Milan. We woke up early but not early enough, because when we arrived at the gates of the Trade Fair place, we had to stay in queue for almost two hours before having our tickets validated….luckily for us it was a warm and sunny day…
Expo Milano 2015 is the Universal Exhibition that Milan, is hosting from May 1 to October 31, 2015. Over this six-month period, Milan becomes a global showcase where more than 140 participating countries show the best of their technology that offers a concrete answer to a vital need: being able to guarantee healthy, safe and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the Planet and its equilibrium. In addition to the exhibitor nations, the Expo also involves international organizations, and expects to welcome over 20 million visitors to its 1.1 million square meters of exhibition area. “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” is the core theme of Expo Milano 2015. This common thread runs through all the events organized both within and outside the official Exhibition Site. A platform for the exchange of ideas and shared solutions on the theme of food, stimulating each country’s creativity and promoting innovation for a sustainable future, Expo 2015 gives everyone the opportunity to find out about, and taste, the world’s best dishes, while discovering the best of the agri-food and gastronomic traditions of each of the exhibitor countries.
We knew that try to visit the biggest pavillions was useless, the waiting lines for such as Japan, China, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, South Korea, Brasil, Russia, Italy and others, were estimated between 2 and 6 hours….no way! So we decided to just have a stroll around, looking at all the amazing architecture of the pavillions, and try to enter into the smaller ones.
Curated by Davide Rampello and designed by Michele de Lucchi, Pavilion Zero provides an introduction to the Expo Milano 2015 Site. Pavilion Zero takes the visitor on a captivating journey to explore how much humankind has produced, the transformation of natural landscape, and the culture and rituals of food consumption. The explicit commitment undertaken by Expo Milano 2015 since the early phases of its candidacy, has been to produce a great event, focusing on respect for the environment, local communities and where they live. Sustainability is a central pillar of this commitment, an overarching, universal value that permeates all aspects of the Expo starting with the theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, projected into a sustainable future for the planet and society as a whole.
In particular, the environmental commitment of Expo 2015 SpA takes form in the implementation of criteria of sustainability applied to all aspects and the entire lifecycle of the event, in order to prevent, mitigate or compensate any possible negative impact on the environment or on local communities.
The major artery of the exposition, the Decumano (above). In many modern cities, the cross, typical of the roman camp – or castrum – is still evident as the form of the town. It was a distinctive perpendicular shape and the two street crossings were known as the Cardo and the Decumano. This shape has been the inspiration for the building of the Expo Milano 2015 Exposition Site. This very simple shape was chosen with the aim of helping visitors find their directions through events and shows, and participant countries as they display their products.
The main street, the Decumano, crosses the whole site from east to west for one and a half kilometers. On either side of the Decumano, are the national pavilions of the participant countries, and of 130, around 60 will develop a self-built pavilion. All others will be inside a Cluster. Symbolically the Decumano connects to the place where food is consumed (the city) and the place where food is produced (the countryside).
As the other main street that crosses the Decumano, the Cardo is 350 meters long. It connects the exposition site from the north to the south where the Italian Pavilion is located. In this area, called Palazzo Italia, all the cultures and traditions, typical of the Italian food industry, are showcased.
The Angola Pavillion
Lao, one of the countries of the rice cluster.
A rural landscape that conveys the feel of the vastness, the colors, and scents of rice fields, greets visitors as they begin their journey into the world of rice. The Rice Cluster will also illustrate how rice grows, including how the water covers and protects the seedlings.
Rice is both adaptable and nutritious. This is why, more than 10,000 years ago, people started cooking and eating rice. The first kind was, it is believed, what we would call a Chinese-type rice. This variety has since spread worldwide from the valleys of China, and is still being enjoyed today as a key element of many cuisines.
Given our knowledge of the history of rice and the countless varieties that are available, it is imperative that we appreciate the central role that this cereal plays in enriching biodiversity. Within the Rice Cluster, the visitor will have the chance to time-travel and see how people in different countries have, over the years, come up with innovative ways to cultivate rice.
as it is Bangladesh (there I bought basmati rice and so many different kind of spices – I guess that on my way home I made all the train stink!) Other countries are Cambodia, Myanmar and Sierra Leone.
Cluster of coffee (I bought some vanilla and cinnamon coffee here).Taking its inspiration from the vast coffee plantations located at the edges of the tropical forests of Africa and Central America, this cluster’s architecture evokes the highest branches of the trees in the shade which the coffee plants grow, with the pavilions serving as a metaphor for these tree trunks. The Coffee Cluster is characterized by warm and natural colors that change according to the changing light that filters through the roof, giving visitors the illusion of being in a real forest. Created in collaboration with the International Coffee Organization (ICO), this Cluster narrates the past, present, and future of coffee, focusing on three areas: “the product and its journey from bean to cup” – “the creativity, art and culture that have developed around the coffee-drinking ritual” – “the stories and traditions of the countries of coffee farmers and consumers”. The countries in this cluster are Burundi, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Yemen and Timor-Lest
Below, the italian companies of the cocoa and chocolate cluster.
The pavilions, all of a similar size and color, are identified by the exhibitor country’s flag and name. Display panels featuring drawings, icons, and images tell the many stories of cacao: from cultivation, via processing and transport, to distribution worldwide. In the Cluster, the tasting and relaxation area is linked to the section set aside for events, and also to the space where demonstrations related to cocoa and chocolate will take place.
Cacao was cultivated for many thousands of years by a number of pre-Columbian peoples, and featured as a key component of Maya and Aztec diet and culture. One of the many uses to which the Aztecs put cacao was as an ingredient in the drink known as “xocolātl”. Another traditional recipe combined cocoa and chili. Whether used for food or drink, or in exchange for other goods, cocoa soon became a symbol of energy, fertility, and life. Cocoa’s popularity has not dwindled and, indeed, is the main ingredient of chocolate, one of the world’s best-loved foods. The cocoa employed to make the chocolate that we eat, or drink, derives from the cacao fruit. Cacao is grown in more than 30 emerging countries, the crop serving, in many cases, to sustain their economies.
Gabon pavillion (we bought cocoa biscuits) and the others are Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Ghana and Sao Tome and Principe.
We had lunch on the Eataly
pavillion terrace (the pavillion is divided into Italy regions’ sections – we choose Basilicata
, in honour of my daughter bf)
Instead of dessert or ice-cream, we opted for a special italian treat, “farinata ligure
” (the name can vary because it’s a dish from several italian regions)
With a very full stomach, we continued on our walk, discovering other countries along the way….
Afghanistan (you see the bags hanging in in the second pic? my daughter is the proud owner of one of them now)
(just in case you, like me, don’t know exactly where
it is….) with Afghanistan in the cluster of spices. Spices are no longer the impetus of conquest and colonization they once were, but they continue to suffuse cuisines worldwide. Spices have long defined the rich, complex South India cuisine—known for its hot red chilies and saffron-hued turmeric that are produced in the region—spices that also seem to be echoed throughout this multilayered culture. With Afghanistan and Vanuatu there are also Brunei Darussalam and Tanzania in this cluster. Walking through these pavillions we were literally trasported in another world, so intense were the fragrances and the different aromas…..I have now a little sachet of hot red curry, I’ll let you know….
my daughter in front of the UK Pavillion
Holy See Pavillion (and nope, the Pope hasn’t visited yet…)
France (at 4.00pm – 2 hours to enter)
Israel (same time of the day – same 2 hours in line)
Italy Pavillion, the most visited – 4 hours to enter, but now it’s official: Italy pavilion, Pavilion Zero and the Tree of Life will stay forever after the closing of the exposition, so maybe next year we will be back to visit them.
The Tree of Life, the most known installation. Located at the northernmost point of the Cardo, is the Lake Arena. This pond, which is approximately 90 meters wide, is encircled by a seating area, bordered by around 100 trees, placed in three concentric circles, and accommodates approximately 3,000 people. The bottom of the pond is filled with dark pebbles to create a mirror effect. At the center of the pond there are fountains and the Tree of Life. During the day the three and a half minute show takes place every hour, from 11:00 until 19:00. The evening shows are longer, lasting 12 and half minutes and take place from Monday to Friday at 20.30, 21.00, 21.30, 22.00. On Saturday and Sunday the light show takes place at: 20.30, 21.00, 21.30, 22.00, 22.30. The show features lighting, special effects, fireworks and music. During the day you can listen to five songs by contemporary Italian artists while in the evening the “Tree of Life Suite” accompanies the show, a piece composed by Maestro Roberto Cacciapaglia for the Expo. Constructed by Orgoglio Brescia, a consortium of local businesses, and some 37 metres tall, this wood and steel structure forms part of the metaphor of the Plant Nursery, which informs the concept of the Italian Pavilion. The structure of the Tree of Life takes its cue from the Renaissance. Indeed, Marco Balich based his design on designs by Michelangelo. We attended one of the short programs, (look at my IG) and it was stunning! See here for the long ones.
Not that I fully understand why the Coca-Cola Company was present (or McDonald) and with a very long line outside, but here it is….
The inside of the Algeria pavillion (below), that with Albania, Egypt, Greece, Lebanon, Malta, Montenegro, San Marino, Serbia and Tunisia forms the cluster of Bio-Mediterraneum.
The concept of this Cluster is based upon Mediterranean cuisine and the way of life in this area, with a special emphasis on participation and integration. The Cluster aims to recreate the colors, tastes, and aromas that are typical of Mediterranean countries and their cultures. Evoking the image of typical Mediterranean towns, this Cluster features a large main central square, onto which face four buildings where visitors can sample and purchase local foods and other products. The main square is paved in various shades of blue, reminiscent of the Mediterranean sea.
The Mediterranean sea connects three continents: Europe, Africa, and Asia. This region is a melting pot of populations where history, civilizations, and the natural environment have blended over time. Food has played a vital role in helping to preserve the unique qualities of this area and, over many centuries, a wide array of food traditions have formed, based on local resources such as wheat, olives, and grapes.
In the Mediterranean area, a meal is seen as an essential aspect of social and cultural life. The main characteristic of the Mediterranean diet is that of taking the time to enjoy a meal, replete with the local rituals connected to the communal eating experience.
The people of the Mediterranean area probably spend more time preparing and eating their meals than do those anywhere else in the world. The Mediterranean diet is not only considered healthy but it also protects agricultural biodiversity, while local cultivation methods respect criteria for sustainability.
The Islands, Sea and Food Cluster includes Cape Verde, Caribbean Community (Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname), Comoros, Guinea Bissau, Madagascar, Maldives and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Islands, Sea and Food Cluster concept is based on this concept of, “feeding the spirit” via sounds, colors, and aromas. The sound of rushing water, the crunch of footsteps on gravel, and hammering on wood convey a sense of the harmony typically found within the countries belonging to this Cluster. We had the most amazing experience here, the people of these countries is so very smiling, and warm and welcoming. We talked with a boy from the Comoros with the most stunning blue eyes I’ve ever seen! Now we own some bijoux made of woods and horns, too bad the rhum wasn’t for sale!
Turkey (with my daughter again)
The second place as the most visited pavilion is up to Japan, at 4.00pm the waiting line to enter was about 4 hours….
Expo Milano 2015 offers the opportunity to learn about the cultures of the world starting from the palate. At the Universal Exposition of Milan over 70 restaurants will take you to 70 different places in the world, offering you the possibility of enjoying over 70 different and unknown tastes and cultures, or taking you back to an experience of the past. All this through the culture of food. From zebra meat to Argentine beef, from crispy sweet and sour chicken to curry, from falafel to hummus, from noodles to rice, from cassava flour to corn flour, from sushi ice cream, to crocodile burgers and… much more. A clever mix of flavors, aromas, scents and ingredients that represent the cuisines from all around the world. Actually walking around the first stimulated sense is the sense of smell….so many fragrances in the air, all mixed up and so intense…
the stunning Qatar Pavilion…………
…and the Oman one make you feel like you’re lost in some desert oasis….
We entered the Turkmenistan Pavilion………..
up till the terrace where you can see a traditional hut set in a garden, a traditional carpet design made of leds and enjoy a beautiful view over the Decumano…
The Indonesia Pavilion is where we had our spicy dinner, so so good
It was a long and tiring day, but a very thrilling experience for both of us, it was like taking a trip around the globe in just one place!. I’m so glad that what we taught to our daughter has made roots in her soul, she is so hungry to discover the new……All the differences in the world just make us richer, we just have to keep our minds and hearts open……….
For more about all the countries present at the exposition and which theme they choose, read here