Saturday, June 27, 2015

Milan: Expo 2015 focuses on feeding the planet

This is what comes from drinking too much espresso, a trip to Milan. The inside of illy coffee cups have been advertising Expo for the last year. It was that that first made us think of coming to Milan. Today we boarded the train to take us to Expo. I might add that is was quite a warm and humid day.

The exposition site covers 110 hectares. The theme is Feeding the Planet-Energy for Life. What better place to have an Expo about food than Italy? Over 140 countries are taking part in Expo but not Canada. The first pavilion we visited gave an overview of the development of agriculture throughout the ages.

There were international pavilions, thematic areas, company pavilions, street food and areas for performances. It was vast. We decided to tackle the whole thing by going down one side of the flag bedecked mall and coming back up the other. Korea was our next port of call. With the simple theme “We are what we eat,” the Korean pavilion is one of the most introspective pavilions. The design was inspired by a traditional porcelain pot. It had a lot of stunning light shows.

Several companies have their own pavilions. It being Italy there were several chocolate pavilions. We went in one and watched how they made their chocolate but really we went for the very yummy sample we got at the end of the little tour. This pavilion was so good we visited it twice.

There were lots of places to eat in restaurants and in the pavilions. We stopped at a huge food area representing the various regions of Italy. Each open kitchen had representative dishes. We went to the Piedmont where I had vitello tonnato, which is cooked veal thinly sliced and covered in a tuna sauce. It sounds a bit weird but it is delicious. This with a salad and chinotto to drink was such a good lunch. From here we wandered over to Sicily where we had a cannoli for dessert. So good.

The UK pavilion perfectly merges art, engineering and architecture. Very conceptual, the beehive is in fact a thoroughly executed installation of 169,300 metal pieces, lights and sounds. To get to it you first walk through an English meadow. Once there you can actually walk right inside the installation. It is the most popular pavilion.

In the middle of the expo, Austria invites you to charge your batteries and breathe fresh air in their miniature forest with temperature being approximately 6 degrees less than the general one. A bubble of oxygen in the heat city of Milan, it was delightful. The many sprays kept the plants moist and were refreshing for the visitors as well.

We had to visit the Spanish pavilion, which highlighted the food of Spain and all the excellent chefs that Spain has. It showed the foods from the various regions and we certainly had a feeling of being in Spain when we were there.

At the bottom of the mall we stopped in the slow food pavilion. It was surrounded by lovely gardens of edible plants with lots of herbs. Inside, the displays were quite low tech but they certainly emphasized the traditional way of eating food in Italy, eating from the land, as opposed to eating chickens from battery farms, hormone-fed livestock and genetically modified crops. I was taken aback to learn that 98% of Canadian corn is genetically modified.

Now we were back in the mall ready to make out return journey. By now it was very hot and busy. There were marching bands and various artists from several countries performing traditional songs and dances. We wandered over to the Italian pavilion but there was a long queue and we were past queuing. I did sit on one of the chairs that rocked you in every direction while watching the Italian Tree of Life send off bubbles and change its lighting colours.

We stopped in the Italian supermarket of the future. It was interesting to watch how all the apples were carefully placed in a display with robot arms that twisted in all directions. There was lots of produce including lovely cheeses to buy. Having the curse of carryon baggage hanging over us we just bought some tarallis, little hard biscuits with lots of fennel. They never made it into our luggage.

It was late afternoon and we were glad to return to our hotel in Milan. With the help of a tip from our Canadian friends from Milan we ended up after dinner people-watching at Campari at the Duomo end of Galleria with Seamus having Campari while I had a zucca shakeroo. Zucca is an after dinner herbal drink made of rhubarb and herbs. It is one of my favorite drinks and gives you a great night's sleep. And I did.

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