The great event that is Expo Milano 2015
has had “tastes” as its underlying theme, with specialty dishes from all corners of the earth, tasting sessions, haute cuisine, previously little-known ingredients and great chefs. However, every tasting session and all fun events have included reflections on the main theme of Expo Milano 2015, how to Feed the Planet
in the future, ensuring all have access to healthy and nourishing food which respects the Earth too.
Typical dishes in the Pavilions and Clusters
Expo Milano 2015
spotlighted the typical dishes, traditions and specialties of each country present, through an incredible journey bringing together colors, flavors and ancient wisdoms. Each pavilion presented the public with a menu of typical dishes, from the classic traditional ones to the more creative, in an amazing world tasting tour. The paella
in the Spanish Pavilion, a rice dish with seafood and saffron, the shakshuka
in the Israeli Pavilion, a rich dish whose main ingredients are tomato, vegetables and eggs, the pastel de choclo
from Chile, a corn pie filled with maize and spices, the Colombian arepa di mais
, a corn pancake stuffed with cheese and meat. Then there’s, the mamaliga
from Moldova, cornmeal grits served with sour cream, parsley and cheese, Uruguay’s 100%-certified grilled meats, the rice noodles with prawns from Thailand, the mesfouf
from Algeria, cous cous with raisins, lemon zest and dried fruit and nuts: these are just a few examples of the immense variety of tastes and flavors which enhanced the visitors’ days at the Universal Exhibition in Milan. Among the many novel flavors, there are also the best samples of Italian cuisine with Saffron and Rice, the dish invented by Davide Oldani, Ambassador for Expo Milano 2015, and the Candied Tomato and Eggplant Raviolo with cold Pecorino Romano fondu from Peck’s restaurant on the top floor of the Italian Pavilion.
Farmers and producers
A cross-section of agriculture worldwide; the producers were center stage at Expo Milano 2015 and they could illustrate the route of food from farm to table. For example, in the Coffee Cluster, Illy showed the sequence for the brown beans which wake us up each morning and, in the Colombian Pavilion, maestro Cafetero Ricardo León Vargas illustrated the characteristics peculiar to Colombian coffee.
Over in the Bio-Mediterranean Cluster, full focus was on Giorgio Bakagias and his Greek saffron, with its brilliant color and rich in nutritional properties. It is a very versatile product, which can also be used to make tasty herbal teas or delicious ice creams. Sicily and its points of excellence were represented by Josè Rallo, who “sings” and produces Sicilian wines: her show which combines live jazz and wine tastings has even reached the Blue Note in New York, with three nights fully sold out.
The Made in Italy brand, another underlying theme of the Universal Exhibition in Milan, is not only about wine, we also have seen a pioneer of quality craft beer in Teo Musso, creator of Baladin and leader of a movement which now counts over 500 micro-breweries, which are working to produce beer which is 100% Italian, from the hops to the grain used.
A large number of women also spoke, a sign that women are becoming ever more aware of their role in the world of agriculture: one of the voices rising from Expo Milano 2015 is that of Carla Barboto, a strong and successful businesswoman who founded Pacari 13 years ago, a family business which guarantees production of high quality organic chocolate and the respect for the dignity of workers involved in its production many of home are women.
Master chefs and relaunching the brand Made in Italy
Expo Milano 2015 was the largest-ever showcase of the most famous chefs in the world. Among the most authoritative voices, the Expo Milano 2015 Ambassador Massimo Bottura, who, thanks to the Refettorio Ambrosiano project developed jointly with Caritas, got friends and fellow chefs involved in a “marathon” to create “starred” dishes for the needy with food left over at the Pavilions and Clusters. Massimo Bottura spoke out in favor of defending Made in Italy too: during the meeting “Fare sistema per vincere nel mondo. Il Made in Italy dopo Expo Milano 2015 organized by the Gruppo Sanpellegrino, together with Fondazione Altagamma he enumerated the ten strong points from which Italy can set out to reconquer a place of glory on the international scene. The determining factors today are, according to the 3-Michelin-star chef, the artists, the entrepreneurs of beauty and good tastes, the particular light in Italy and the differences between the far north and the deep south, which guarantee biodiversity and a rich variety in Italy’s basket of products.
Another illustrious representative of Italian cuisine who brought his own contribution to the Expo Milano 2015 theme, Feed the Planet, Energy for Life, is Ambassador Gualtiero Marchesi, who chose to speak above all to the younger generations, to tell them that respecting the proper ingredients is the key to performing one’s job as a chef with passion and dignity. In his conviction that wheat is the ingredient for the cuisine of the future, Marchesi dedicated to Expo Milano 2015 Trucioli (wood shavings), a new bronze-extruded pasta shape inspired by the wooden furniture-designing entrepreneur Maurizio Riva and produced by the Milanese company Pasta 600.27 owned by Carla Latini.
One of the most popular chefs in Italy is Expo Milano 2015 Ambassador Antonino Cannavacciuolo, who is convinced that combating food waste has always been a part of Italian culinary culture. A historic example of “reuse”? Stock, which was made by putting leftovers together, and then became the essential ingredient for so many tasty dishes. Still today, for example, when a chef goes to the fishmonger he gets 10 crates of fish and 5 of scraps, which are used to prepare stock, aspic and concentrates to flavor other dishes.
There were international guests, too, such as Christian Garcia, chef to Prince Albert II of Monaco and Cris Comerford, Executive chef to the President of the United States, Barack Obama. Both chefs revealed that both at the Royal Family’s palace in Monte Carlo and at the White House, meals are increasingly vegetable-based and care is taken to plan meals and to compost discarded parts so as to avoid waste. The message is clear: the Mediterranean diet, with abundant vegetables and cereals, is to be preferred, and one must take care to eat only appropriate quantities.
Avoiding waste in haute cuisine is key to sustainability
All the chefs who contributed to Expo Milano 2015 brought as a message for the future the importance of combating waste and the need to reuse things which could be considered scraps but which are actually concentrated sources of flavor. Right from the start of the Universal Exhibition, the Expo Milano 2015 Ambassador Carlo Cracco emphasized the fact that it is not necessary to use expensive ingredients because a humble egg, if treated with love and expertise, can turn into a Michelin-starred dish.
Enjoying indulging one’s appetite without waste is also the motto of Expo Milano 2015 Ambassador Davide Oldani. “Think before you buy and weigh before you cook” is his mantra, which means buying only what you really need and cook only the amount that will realistically be eaten. Indeed, the Milanese chef affirms that avoiding waste does not mean sacrificing the pleasure of indulging one’s appetite, quite the contrary! If you know exactly what you need, you save money and you eat fresher food, which is consequently tastier and healthier.
The two-starred Michelin chefs Alessandro Negrini and Fabio Pisani threw down a challenge to the public: to try cooking without using electricity, avoiding keeping gas rings and ovens on for hours and hours. Know-how and ingenuity can really become the new resources to reduce consumption and save the Planet. Creativity against waste was to be found in Tom Kitchin’s cuisine. He is a starred Scottish chef who decided to present haggis at the United Kingdom Pavilion, a traditional poor man’s and “anti-waste” dish using sheep offal as a main ingredient. “I think the best way to avoid waste is to use one’s head”, said the chef. “Restaurants always have an à la Carte menu for the evening and a cheaper one for lunch. While I create the former, I am thinking of the latter at the same time. If I use the heart of some vegetable at dinner, I will turn the rest into a soup for lunch”.
Simple ingredients which become truly delicious in the dishes prepared by Fabio Abbattista, the promising chef of the Albereta Hotel who has rediscovered grano arso (burnt wheat), a traditional ingredient in peasant cooking in the province of Foggia in Puglia: they are the wheat ears which fell to the ground during harvesting and the burning of the stubble, which the chef turns into Cappelletti with grano arso, rabbit and anchovy butter, proving that there are no limits if you use technique and research. Another anti-waste idea which could lead to great results in a short space of time is that launched by Expo Milano 2015 Ambassador Ugo Alciati, who suggests a fixed menu with good seasonal products and compulsory reservations, so that no food at all is thrown away. According to the chef, with this simple change, food waste would be reduced by over 50% and the use of all resources: food, electricity and human labor, bringing down the cost of the meal, a benefit for clients too.
Another haute cuisine dish reflecting on the theme
of Expo Milano 2015 was that created by Michelin-starred chef Andrea Aprea
: the leftover scraps of vegetables from making panzanella
are turned into a soup, by marinating them in seawater, in the center of which a Mediterranean mackerel fillet is placed. First Lady Michelle Obama, who chose Aprea for her Milanese dinner after visiting Expo Milano 2015 really appreciated this cuisine, precisely because of the careful and responsible choice of ingredients. The issue of combating waste was emphasized every day at The Cooking Show, the TV program where two chefs from different countries meet to share recipes and cooking stories, placing particular importance on respecting the ingredients. At the end of each episode, Lisa Casali, an expert in sustainable cookery, created a delicious new dish from the leftovers of the earlier cooking.
Cuisine of the future: greener than ever
Another guiding theme gave further meaning to Expo Milano 2015 and led to profound reflections: there will not be enough good and healthy food for everyone unless we eat “greener”. The pioneer of starred vegetable-based haute cuisine is Expo Milano 2015Ambassador Pietro Leemann, who during the major event on food and religions entitled Il Cibo dello Spirito nella Carta di Milano, stated that a vegetarian diet is the true answer to the theme of Expo Milano 2015, Feed the Planet, Energy for Life, because it is the most sustainable and that which is most respectful of man and of the Planet. From the Media Center stage he also launched an appeal for September 15 to become the Day of Vegetarian Sharing, a day in which to reflect on the importance of “green” cooking and vegetarian menus in restaurants, to encourage the audience to eat in a more healthy, balanced and sustainable manner.
Elena Arzak, too, the world’s top female chef in 2012, took this tack and in her 3-Michelin-starred restaurant in Milan is experimenting dishes prepared with foraged leaves and grasses for a true return to our origins: one example is the dish Kokoyxas de merluzas, filet with a leaf soup. There were plenty of opportunities to discover on the spot how good vegan and vegetarian cooking can get. Some of the tastiest “veg” offerings at Expo Milano 2015 came from Simone Salvini, who is not just a chef but a profoundly spiritual man who in the Biodiversity Park area created balanced menus and dishes such as kitchari: basmati rice, white lentils and vegetables, an Ayurvedic recipe which strengthens the immune system and is complete, natural and has thousands of years’ history. According to Salvini “The food of the future is mostly vegetarian, for a thousand reasons: it must be as local as possible, fresh and cooked without too much Baroque… in other words, minimalist”.
Antonia Klugman, a chef originally from Trieste, also brought a “green” message. She prefers vegetarian cuisine because “knowing that I have not hurt a living being makes me happier and therefore more creative”. One of the dishes faithful to this philosophy is Green and White Asparagus: white asparagus is cooked in the oven, drizzled with white asparagus juice and a green asparagus brunoise. A sustainable vegan recipe in which the whole vegetable is used and nothing is thrown away.
Three-Michelin-starred chef Niko Romito: also made a contribution: “The food of the future will be based mainly on vegetables, pulses and greens”, he said. “Seasonality will be respected, and so there will be a natural rotation of products on the table. And the time has now come to do a lot more work on grains and flours, from which so many incredible products can be made”. Among the products to rediscover, which ferry us from the past to a sustainable “green” future, Solina wheat which, thanks to high temperature ranges, does not need pesticides because the cold night-time temperatures destroy any bacteria attacks.
Quality Street Food: good walkabout food is trendy
Not only haute cuisine: Expo Milano 2015 revealed a very “pop” soul with Ape vehicles and food trucks from all over the world. The United States of America Pavilion even set up a whole dedicated space, the Food Truck Nation, with hamburgers made from top-quality meat and lobster rolls, a roll filled with lobster salad. The Dutch Pavilion also went for street food, with cheese rolls and cartons of meatballs. The Rice Cluster also had “walkabout” food, with Laos offering fried rice on a stick and a basmati rice arancino (breaded and fried rice ball). There were also long queues to taste the Colombian Pavilion’s arepa di mais, a soft corn pancake filled with cheese, tomato, meat, egg and cheese and for the Argentinian, Chilean, Uruguayan and Spanish empanadas: different recipes with one constant: a filled half-moon shaped pasty containing vegetables or spicy meat.
At Cascina Triulza and at the Bio-Mediterraneum Cluster
one of the most popular sweets was the Sicilian cannolo
, whereas in the Cocoa and Chocolate Cluster
one could try a chocolate kebab, a cremino
cut to order from a rotating spit, and in the Nutella concept bar one could continue one’s stroll with a hot Nutella pancake on a plate. Another queen of street foods were the double-fried Belgian potato chips, which generated huge enthusiasm among fans. There was vegetarian street food, too, such as the roll with bajias
from the Cereal and Tubers Cluster
: a roll filled with vegetarian balls made with boiled black-eyed beans, pureed and mixed with garlic, salt and coriander. And then, who says that haute cuisine cannot travel on wheels? The “starred” rolls from The Rolling Star were very popular: from an old Citroen H, converted into a brand-new kitchen, one could buy the “starred” rolls created by Felice Lo Basso, containing pulled pork shoulder cooked for 14 hours, with horseradish sauce and apple; or a prawn roll with prawn tartare in cocktail sauce or a vegetarian roll with a vegetarian hamburger, peppers and burrata
Expo Milano 2015 was also the chance to taste unusual and innovative foods: at the Dutch Pavilion there was the Dutch seed burger, a vegan, 100% vegetable hamburger made from pulses and seaweed. The Zimbabwe Pavilion also had novelty tastes, with its Croco Burger, a bun filled with a crocodile burger, baobab sauce and grilled vegetables, and the Zebra Burger “home-baked” white bread with a zebra burger, accompanied by gherkins, cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce and baobab sauce. The children’s favorite ice cream was Foody, the taste based on the cheery mascot of Expo Milano 2015 which combines tropical fruit, specifically mango, papaya and maracuja, with lime jam, while a novelty flavor was baobab ice cream, full of essential nutritional elements.
Another curiosity is the most expensive dish on offer at Expo Milano 2015: blinis with sour cream and caviar from Brescia, made by chef Augusto Pasini from the Lanzani Bottega e Bistrot, who did not forget the theme of Expo Milano 2015 and honored it with a vegan dish: vegetable sprouts, chick peas and raspberry vinaigrette which plays with the sweet and sour taste and the crunchy consistency of the sprouts and the chickpeas. The green revolution which brings together good tastes and sustainability starts from Expo Milano 2015.