MILAN--A visit here this year is not complete without checking in on the Expo Milano 2015, which runs through October 31. Other than the Olympic Games--and possibly World Cup--there is no greater coming together of countries.
Billed by travel magazines as one of 2015's top global events, Expo is focused on the critical issue of sustainable food and agriculture in a growing, increasingly thirsty and hungry world. The theme is fitting--and even a tad ironic--given that few visitors ever leave Italy anything but well-fed.
A half-day trek was informative, time well spent (despite triple-digit, wilting temperatures). Some notes from Expo:
- If there remained any doubt that sustainability and resource conservation are top-of-mind and mainstream issues, the fact that it's the theme of a global consumer event should dispel lingering skepticism.
- The show-stopping interactive multimedia exhibits are surpassed only by the unique architecture of each country's freestanding pavilions--nothing less than you'd expect in Milan, a global design center. So proud are they of these structures, the organizers even included sketches of each pavilion's architecture in the Expo program.
- Despite huge promotion, global sponsorship and advertising dollars behind it, Expo officials we spoke with said crowds to date are significantly below projection and there is much hand-wringing over the potential attendance fall-off after summer.
- U-S-A! U-S-A! We felt a swell of American pride approaching the United States' exhibit, which includes a two-story stylized Stars and Stripes on its side. The pavilion's concession includes a rear patio with a ring of food trucks selling--what else?--typical American grub: burgers, 'dogs and barbecue. For what it's worth, putting the United States on display for the world with food trucks and burgers is the culinary equivalent of going to Milan Fashion Week wearing Bermuda shorts, Hawaiian shirts and black socks with sandals. We could do so much better. Signage called this "California dream big."
The only thing this Californian was dreaming of, though, was the linguine with scampi and pesto from dinner the previous night.