Milano Expo Highlights:

Sadly, the sustainable food theme didn’t really run deep at Milano Expo 2015. Italy’s meat and cheese frenzy still ran the show even when the exhibits claimed that not everyone can eat meat for us to all live in a sustainable harmony, and a more sustainable diet varies by season and has a bit more veggies than a giant pig leg or Mc Donald’s bacon burger. The hypocrisy was evident, but no one seemed to care. We still found a few hidden gems that we frequented every day or twice a day. The food quality in Italy is superb and Italians know cibo buono. The Expo, as usual, is more of a place to show national pride and bring out the traditional food for the world to taste.

On our last day at the expo, we made the ritual stop at Illy Café for the Maroccino Freddo di soia (2.5 euro only! Which only got better every day and is in the Coffee cluster) and farinata the cheesy-tasting chickpea pancake (5 euro each in the Eataly area). Finally, we ordered Prosecco from a place that had stinky severed pig legs in it, but it was worth it for the wine. We also found a hidden and healthy place behind the ever-so-sustainable McDonalds called Juice Bar. They had a soy yogurt parfait, chia pudding with fruit, salads and smoothies (centrifuge). The guy working there knew perfect English, is a vegetarian, and was fun to talk to about Italian food and the Expo.

Top 3 Pavilions at the Expo
We saw a lot of pavilions including our favorites: Germany, Azerbaijan, France, Japan, Estonia, and Austria. Germany, Azerbaijan, and Japan were our top three picks for the Expo and here is why:

Azerbaijan had a multi-level glass and wood structure with a three inside that went through three stories. There were many interactive areas in the exhibit that talked about their food and culture. They even had a place to put your hand in a box and you could look down at your hand while it turned into the Matrix/Tron. Not sure what the meaning is here, but they say it’s because Azerbaijan is the future.

Germany had an interactive exhibit where you could learn about –gasp- how Germany is actively trying to improve the future of food using different techniques and technologies. This was basically the only exhibit dedicated to showing off their food-revolution rather than sneaking in promotional sponsors and propaganda about traveling to said city.

Japan had the most interesting and interactive pavilion in the Expo. It took 50 minutes to get through the entire pavilion which included three areas with very artistic and creative ways of showing off Japanese art and technology. They also had an app that could be used in the exhibits but was not needed for most parts. The two highlights were the 2nd and 3rdareas. The 2nd area was a room that was completely black with screens on every side. The floor was covered in white lillypads sticking out of the floor that they would project onto. When we walked in the walls had dancing images that looked like they were floating and the floor and lillypads had stars and white spots flying by in the darkness.

The 3rd area was the “future restaurant” where everyone sat down at tables with screens embedded in the table’s glass with touchscreens that reacted to the chopsticks. They did a game to pick out a dish and season and show how Japan’s food is sustainable and varied by season. 

Honorable Mentions:

  • Slow Food
  • France
  • Austria
  • U.K.

Things NOT to see, IMHO:

  • Italian Pavilion - This usually has huge lines, so don't bother if it's huge. At the end of the night around 8pm (20:00) you can walk in. Enjoy the "chaos room" wth?
  • U.S. - Sponsored by Walgreens. Not super exciting. 
  • China - Semi-interesting, but kind of propaganday
  • The clusters (fruit & veg, chocolate, etc.) - this is where they put the smaller country pavilions where not much is going on. It's worth a little look, but most of them just have products that they sell in their country, and it doesn't have anything to do with a cluster of food types. Sri Lanka = fruit & veg?

Shanghai 2011 VS. Milan 2015 Expo
Why Milan is not as good as the Shanghai world expo
Shanghai had local cultural ambassadors for each pavilion so you could meet someone from every country. This fair doesn't have that, and 99% of all people are from Italy. There are a few exceptions like Japan and France, so that was a nice touch.

Why Milan is better than the Shanghai world expo

This expo was a lot better than Shanghai because there were a lot less people. Shanghai had 500,000 people a day, and this was a LOT less than that. It's still busy, but at least you can see most of the exhibits in a few days without 7 hour lines to see a big screen TV. Also, there is so much good food to try here, so it beats out the Chinese expo for tastiness too.