USA Pavilion 2015: A Sneak Peek at the USA Pavilion 2015 Exhibits
In 9 days, and after years of planning and preparation, the USA Pavilion will open its doors at Expo Milano 2015. At last, visitors will experience the innovation and creativity that has positioned the United States as a global leader in the conversation at the heart of Expo: how to sustainably and securely feed 9 billion people by 2050. Among the many things that may be news to people visiting Expo is the rich, dynamic culture of food in America that will also be represented in the USA Pavilion exhibits.
The American food panorama is as vast as the American landscape itself. While our geography and our food cultural have bloomed over the past thirty years, USA Pavilion exhibition designer Tom Hennes of Thinc Design noted, “largely the perception of American food in the world is out of date” during a Heritage Radio Network interview on Taste Matters.
To engage visitors in conversations about both global food security and American food culture, Thinc divided the exhibits into two main sections corresponding to the two main floors of the building. The boardwalk level of the pavilion addresses Global Abundance through Diversity, using different voices of people working across the entire food system to present America’s unique contribution. The lower level tells the story of American food culture through a series of vignettes called The Great American Foodscape. Here’s a sneak peak of what visitors will find in that lower level exhibit.
Developing the exhibitions for the 35,000-square-foot Pavilion with two floors of exhibition space and a rooftop terrace took many months of research. “We had a large group of stories to tell,” says Molly McBride, media producer at Thinc Design, “and we wanted to create a journey through the American foodscape.” After consulting with academics and food journalists, the designers created seven stories that represented what was happening in the American food scene, all woven together by American optimism, entrepreneurism and unbounded creativity that are hallmarks of our national character.
“Tradition Transformed” tells the story of a family recipe handed down across generations, beginning as a classic tale of an immigrant dish, one of comfort, a way of holding on to the roots of a family. Throughout the years, the recipe changes but retains its essence up until the present day, when the classic dish becomes a part of the American table and the current dialogue. “Artisans” elaborates on the evolution of craft food production, telling the stories of the many Americans who are rediscovering traditional methods of preparing and selling traditional foods.
Often misunderstood as simply “grilling,” “BBQ” is a low-heat and slow-smoke cooking method that takes on regional identity as it is applied to different cuts and varieties of meat around the country. Invoking regional character, here is the story of how a primal way of cooking also provides a taste of terroir, from the mutton of Kentucky to the sauce divide in the Carolinas, from the classic beef brisket in Texas to the baby back ribs of Kansas City, American barbecue is a tribute to the diversity of the people of America.
“Thanksgiving” is the singular tradition that brings Americans together, regardless of ethnicity, religion or language, and as such Thanksgiving finds a central place in the exhibits. Family recipes, both old and new, classic and inventive, sit at the table alongside the turkey, a bird native to our land, cooked in a variety of ways for the meal and shared afterwards as delicious leftovers.
As Americans have embraced ways of eating locally, “Farm To Table” elaborates on that message. From urban rooftop gardens to the White House Kitchen Garden to farm-to-table menus at restaurants and local greenmarkets, Americans support farmers and technology. That locally sourced fresh food is also transforming the way we eat, as “On the Go,” illustrates. American fast food is now becoming healthier as Americans rush from one point to another, refueling with inventive fresh food, thanks in part to technology and research that makes it possible to get fresh food.
“The Next Bite” rounds out the journey through the American foodscape. Whether you’re buying fresh plums from a local greenmarket in Portland, Oregon in June or fresh strawberries in Portland, Maine in January, innovation, technology, research and creativity are all part of every meal. “We all have a role to play and, as consumers, our choices matter,” says Molly of Thinc. “We are all individual activists in life. These [foods] contribute to global food security and the world that we live in.”