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Montenegro: History and food specialties, protected by mountains

Culture / -

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© Mattes Rene_Hemis_Corbis

A gem set between the Adriatic shore and imposing mountains, Montenegro boasts virgin forests, parks, and sheer cliffs overlooking the sea.

Montenegro hides natural beauty and an intriguing history behind what seems like a harsh landscape. One of the country’s best-known mountains is the Bobotov Kuk. This is the highest peak in the Durmitor chain, which has been a National Park since 1952.
 
The canyons along the rivers Tara, Sušica and Draga, and the upper valley of the river Komarnica are not to be missed. In 1977, the river Tara Gorge, or Canyon, and the area round about became a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, three years later, being added to the World Heritage List, along with the Durmitor mountain range.

This is a land whose cuisine is keyed on simple, traditional country tastes, blended with Italian influences due to Montenegro’s having been under the dominion of the Venetian Republic from 1420 until 1797. There’s more. Montenegro’s close proximity to Turkey, and the Austro-Hungarian empire, have also left their mark. While the use of vegetables, meat, and fish, along with olive oil are typical of Mediterranean cuisine, there is also “kuvani brav”, or boiled lamb, as well as “pivski kajmak”, which is the special heavy cream that comes from the Piva region, and also “skakavica” that is fish marinated in white cabbage, olive oil, and lemon.

A showcase of biodiversity and, since 1991, Europe’s first Ecological State

On September 20 1991, Montenegro’s parliament adopted the Declaration on the Ecological State, not least in view of the country’s being one of Europe’s last environmental oases.
 
While Montenegro is very small, its biodiversity is extensive. Indeed, the country has four protected areas. These are Biogradska Gora, one of the few virgin forests remaining in Europe; Lake Skadar (also called Lake Scutari, Lake Shkodër, and Lake Shkodra), which is the largest inland water in the Balkan region, and which boasts many fish and bird species, the best-known probably being pelicans; the Durmitor mountains; and Mount Lovćen, which is a symbol of the country, thanks to its being the location of the mausoleum of Petar II Petrović Njegoš (1813-1851), the Prince-Bishop of Montenegro, who was also a poet and philosopher.

Conjuring mountains and lakes at the Montenegro Pavilion
 
The contemporary marries the traditional in Montenegro’s pavilion, which is located in the Bio-Mediterraneum Cluster.
 
The concept informing the country’s pavilion is the courtyard, which is where farmers dry their crops. Looking up, we see a structure formed of wool yarn that recreates the spectacle of the peaks of the Durmitor mountain range. These reflect from the mirrored floor of the courtyard, evoking the image of the Black Lake (Crno jezero), which has been referred to as the loveliest lake in the Durmitor National Park.
 
Appearing as a special guest at Montenegro’s National Day at Expo, which is scheduled for May 20, is the well-known Montenegrin classical guitarist Miloš Karadaglić, whose music will take visitors into the heart of Montenegro, evoking lakes, nature, food, and freedom.
 
 

Afghanistan, a country of spices and ancient traditions

Culture / -

 
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© Alison Wright/Corbis
© Wali Khan/Xinhua Press/Corbis
© Xinhua Kabul/Xinhua Press/Corbis
© Ahmad Massoud/Xinhua Press/Corbis
© Ric Ergenbright/CORBIS
© Alison Wright/Corbis

A history marked by rulers and by the passage of peoples from around the world. A culture steeped in the customs and traditions brought by those traveling between East and West, where traditions have been influenced by Islam and by a mountainous, harsh terrain. This is the ancient country of Afghanistan.

Kenya. A land of contrasts and unique characteristics

Culture / -

© Hugh Sitton-Corbis

Kenya is like a mosaic of different kinds of territory and ecosystems, from the coastal zone to the savanna, and from vast highland plateaus to rugged mountain chains, to the Rift Valley and Lake Victoria.

A fantastic and much-loved tourist destination, Kenya in November will welcome a truly illustrious visitor: the Holy See has confirmed that Pope Francis will honor the country with a visit. This is a highly important event for the African nation which will find itself back in the spotlight immediately after the end of the Universal Exposition. And it will have yet a further opportunity to show the world its natural treasures and resources.
 
The Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the most unforgettable experiences for visitors to Kenya: a territory home to the Masai, a people who live in harmony with the so-called Big Five: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffaloes. The Serengeti Park is world-famous for one of Nature’s most spectacular events: the migration of the gnu, when thousands and thousands of animals migrate from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara in autumn and vice versa in spring.
 
For those who love the sea, the coastal zone – especially near Mombasa – offers superb beaches and warm tropical waters swarming with colorful fish. Here swimmers can encounter crustaceans and invertebrates near the coral reef, and dolphins and turtles and even swim with sharks in their natural habitat.
 
Two dishes: Githeri and pilau
 
Among typical Kenyan dishes, Githeri is a traditional recipe from the Central Province based on beans and corn. This has become popular all over the country, due to its ingredients being available everywhere. There is also a richer and more complete variant, where diced meat and potatoes are added. Pilau, on the other hand, is a specialty from the Swahili coast in East Africa. The rice is flavored with spices and cooked in a tasty broth made from meat, fowl or fish. This dish is typically associated with festivities. It can be served hot with a tomato-based sauce or with a beef or chicken stew.
 
Food safety, at the heart of the Kenyan Pavilion
 
Kenya is present at Expo Milano 2015 in the Coffee Cluster. The visitor’s attention is directed towards one of the most important challenges faced by the country: food security. Food is not only indispensable for proper nutrition, it is also a link between different cultures. Today, a plant disease in a Kenyan coffee plantation can change the price of an espresso in a bar in Rome. The Pavilion naturally offers visitors the possibility of tasting its top gastronomic products, including various blends of arabica coffee.
 
The climate of Kenya’s highland plateau is ideal in particular for growing arabica coffee. Kenyan coffee is world-famous for its quality, which also derives from the volcanic soil where it is cultivated, and because it is treated immediately on being harvested, thus maintaining its floral aroma. As well as its taste, Kenyan coffee is also recognized as possessing various health benefits, which have led to it being described as a superfood: it is rich in antioxidants, which prevent damage being caused by free radicals. Coffee also reduces the risk of certain chronic diseases, and various studies have demonstrated its anti-depressive properties and its ability to favor short term memory.
 
 

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