The U.S. will show itself off as “Food Truck Nation” at the Milan Expo, sending six authentic food trucks to Italy as part of its participation in the event opening in May for six months.
The Expo theme is food and nutrition. The food trucks will be parked near the USA pavilion and will celebrate regional food and ethnic fusion trends, with a rotating menu including barbecue, Tex-Mex, salad wraps and even kimchee tacos, according to Mitchell Davis, executive vice president of the James Beard Foundation and an official with the Friends of the USA Pavilion.
The Expo is the modern incarnation of the old World’s Fairs that thrilled 19th- and 20th-century audiences with new products and futuristic technology. While the Expos have lost their gee-whiz luster due to globalization and the proliferation of technology in everyday life, Expos continue to attract millions of visitors. More than 73 million people attended the Shanghai Expo in 2010.
Twenty million people are expected for the Milan Expo, with 6 million tickets already sold, according to Alessandro Mancini, head of Expo ticketing and tourism, who spoke in New York Tuesday with Milan’s mayor, Giuliano Pisapia. Seven to 8 million of those visitors are expected to come from outside Italy, including a million from the U.S.
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Milan’s famous opera house, La Scala, is normally closed in the summer but will host concerts and performances daily during the Expo.
Dozens of countries are building individual pavilions at the Expo site and a number of small countries will share pavilions featuring foods they consume or grow, such as coffee, cocoa and rice. Exhibitions will also explore topics such as food safety, nutrition and crop biodiversity.
The U.S. plans to operate a temporary James Beard American Restaurant in central Milan for the duration of the Expo, offering uniquely American meals such as Thanksgiving dinner and a gospel brunch, according to Davis.
Tickets to the Expo are $45 a day, but organizers say most visitors will need two or three days to see the massive event, including informational exhibits, art and culture, marketplaces, live performances including Cirque du Soleil shows, and noteworthy architecture, such as Norman Foster’s wavy-walled design for the United Arab Emirates pavilion.
Tickets are on sale in the U.S. and are expected to become available from various outlets over the next few months. Ticket-sellers include Eataly, the Italian food emporium in Manhattan, which is hosting a display of statues and other artifacts from Milan’s Duomo (cathedral).
Discounted tickets will also be available from tour operators offering package deals with hotels, according to Enrico Riffilli of Uvet, which is selling Expo tickets and packages at MadeinUvet.com. Milan has about 60,000 hotel rooms, but peak Expo days could see 250,000 visitors, so some will have to stay outside the city, Riffilli said.