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Culinary Traditions and a Gastronomic Feast: An Itinerary Through the Pavilions

14 Oct

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At Expo Milano 2015, many pavilions have emphasized in their exhibits the richness of their food offerings or their traditions in wine and cooking, highlighting their important role in feeding the planet. In some pavilions, this tradition is shown as a dynamic dialog with agricultural innovation. Here is our selection.
This exhibition presents the food resources of the country in four chapters: origins, growth, sustainability and future. The walls of the pavilion show the main food staples of the country: fishing, livestock breeding, farming and apiculture. Angolan cuisine allows for a full appreciation of the food pyramid, in that the country provides all the foods for proper nutrition. The second level of the pavilion is a trip through Angola’s nutrition and gastronomy. The third level shows the capacity of modern Angola to transform, conserve and innovate the world of food.
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The Argentina Pavilion is made up of a series of interconnected silos that bring to mind a system of metallic gears. The meaning of this shape is that Argentina is not simply a reserve of agricultural resources but a modern country that transforms them into products with added value. The natural wealth of the country is shown by a long conveyor belt hanging from the ceiling on which are projections of various kinds of foods.
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In Colombia, the natural richness of its biodiversity is not distributed latitudinally but in altitude. This is the basic concept behind the ‘pisos termicos,’ the climatic levels that form a common thread running through the pavilion. Colombia – the world’s second most biodiverse country per square kilometer, with more than 50,000 species of flora and fauna – features five climate zones, which are shown in the various rooms of the pavilion.
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In a large wooden “market,” the visitor is immersed in an inverted hilly landscape. Inside these “faces of abundance” are regional specialties, scientific and biotechnological research, agro-ecology, new farming technologies, genetic advances, the chemistry of life, and plants.
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A large garden at the entrance holds plants grown in Iran like grapevines, barberries, pomegranate and date palms, medicinal herbs like valerian, and cooking herbs like sage and rosemary. Along the seven climatic areas that characterize the country, the most famous foods are shown: pistachios, caviar, barberries, saffron, dates and pomegranates, basmati rice, almonds and walnuts. Other characteristic foods are crystalized sugar flavored with saffron, hazelnuts, figs, and sweets made with dried fruit, rosewater, honey and saffron.
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In 2008, Morocco launched the “Green Morocco” plan to allow food independence for the population and exports of its specialties. The results are there for everyone to see in their pavilion. The route is divided based on different areas of the country, each with its own excellent products. At the entrance, panels explain the importance of agriculture for the economy of Morocco: 40 percent of the population gets resources from this sector.
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This structure is inspired by a cob in a weave of dried corn leaves. The shape of the Mexico Pavilion recalls the symbol of Mexican food culture. Corn or maize, in fact, originated in this country, and since 2010 UNESCO has recognized it as an intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The walls in the form of totomoxtle (dried corn leaves, in the Nahuátl language) are made of transparent fabric.
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Republic of Korea
Korea’s response to bad eating habits is called Hansik: the model of local tradition is composed of balanced plates that take into consideration many factors like seasonality, different colors, etc. The first room is dedicated to the theme of balance, condensed into the slogan “Symphony of food.” A video shown on the wall and the performance of mechanical arms show what fermentation – a fundamental concept in Korean cooking – consists of.
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The Spain Pavilion has two aisles representing the balance between the innovations of its new star chefs and its culinary tradition. Screens show some typical dishes being prepared using different methods by both a mother and a young cook. The exhibit shows the food pyramid and a cascade of olive oil, a key food in the Mediterranean diet of which Spain is a major world producer and exporter. The course of the exhibit also shows the health advantages of Spanish foods.
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European Union
Is it possible to achieve food security through good cooperation between science and agriculture, between innovation and tradition? This is the theme of the EU Pavilion. By interacting with a touch-screen monitor, visitors find information on the policies of the European Union: production, development (especially small and medium-sized businesses) and cooperation.
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