So I finally took the travel solo plunge to check out Milan Expo 2015. I was in the south of Italy for one of my favourite annual film festival trips in Giffoni, and decided to extend and head North for a few days.
As you may know, the underlying theme of Expo Milan is “Feeding the Planet” and that’s what participating countries need to address within the platform of their respective pavilions. So yes, it is about food, as much as it is also about world hunger, famine, agriculture, food security, natural resources in the cultural context. So it all depends on how you want to see it.
I don’t know how, with all my fibre of being, managed to walk through the expo 4 days in a row from noon to night! Part of me wanted to see it all and part of me wanted to be sensible and only check out key pavilions, so I could have time to shop around the city. But why bother exploring it half heartedly?! Even then, I still wasn’t able to get into all the pavilions thanks to the long queues that left me huff and puff away. So here goes my take on the top pavilions to visit based on a conclusive criteria that personally ticked my content/food/design box.
What you’ll love this for? The sensory and artsy experience.
One of the TOP Pavilions that left me fully engaged and in awe of their presentation of “Food for the Future”. It spoke the language of numerous art installations and technology to communicate the message of world hunger severity and the culture of fermentation.
The design of the pavilion itself is inspired by a moon-jar, which is a traditional Korean ceramic porcelain. Perfection in minimalism. I am dying to go to Korea now.
What you’ll love this for? The food trucks and music.
The Dutch pavilion was by far one of my favourite hangout spots. There were no tech installations or mind boggling info to digest. Just a bunch of food trucks with addictive naughty and healthy offerings like Cold pressed juices, Belgian fries and meatballs, fried cheese sandwiches and most of all…..Weed burgers! (Yes you read that correctly).
What you’ll love this for? The futuristic and playful learning experience.
You’ll be taken aback with the warmth of the Emirati Pavilion. One is quickly greeted by a flock of young representatives at the entrance of the pavilion. If you’re lucky, you’ll get asked to participate by singing and recording yourself on an Ipad. I won’t tell you why, but you will be pleasantly surprised when you find out what happens with this footage at the last segment of the tour.
The beauty of this pavilion is not only in its world class architecture (by Foster& Partner), but also in the interactive factor and playful rich content. You will often find that most pavilions showcase their country through agricultural resources and high tech mumbo jumbo. The UAE pavilion on the other hand, took an honest approach by discussing their challenges of sourcing freshwater instead and how they plan to solve this problem.
In case you haven’t heard, the UAE, will also be hosting the next Expo 2020 in the Emirate of Dubai. Therefore the queuing lines by curious visitors was triple fold more than others!
What you’ll love this for? The unexpected interpretation of “Feeding the World”
Another Pavilion that took my breath away. You know why? They showcased nature through forests and trees, which obviously produce Oxygen, and that my friends, is the number one food for life. Hence, Breathe Austria being their theme. Check this creative pathway video from their entrance I posted a while back.
What you’ll love this for? Feeling like you are actually in Poland!
This was a breath of fresh air. From the floor to ceiling wood work facade, to the magnificent walk through garden that pleasantly reeked of floral aromas. The garden is surrounded by floor length mirrors, reflecting endless plantations of Lavendar, Rosemary, Lemons trees and other flowers I can’t pronounce. Don’t be surprised when you find bees happily sniffing around the bushes. Don’t disturb them either 😉
What you’ll love this for? Cinematic presentation of the “Great American Foodscape”.
One of the pavilion experiences I really enjoyed. I like how they used the power of animation to explain the 7 main habitual food cultures prevalent in the US. From Thanksgiving, farm to table, food truck, artisan and so on, the animated films were an endearing intro into the food culture that make up America today.
Another wow factor was the heavy focus on America being a “Food Truck Nation” hub. According to my friend Jackie at Sauce Milan, “offerings from the food trucks, reflect the street food of pre-selected cities, states and regions, with June having been dedicated to New Orleans while July 8th to 26th will highlight California, where you’re likely to find fish tacos and an avocado-topped hamburger.”
Try their Lobster roll for a refreshing meal. Loaded with zesty lobster, celery and chives for a subtle crunch. The Blondie cookie was not a disappointment, but 3 bites from it were all I could stomach for the sake of my calorific sanity.
While the Ministry of Culture in Qatar graciously hosted my stay in Milan to discover the Expo Milan. Opinions on this post are expressly my own.