Russian Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015

Now that we’ve had a month and change to acquaint ourselves with good ol’ Expo Milano 2015,we will be bringing you our musings, thoughts, gripes, opinions and/or a not-to-miss Pavilion each week. First up: Jackie on the Russian Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015!

Simply put: I am obsessed with Russia. No, I have never been. No, I don’t speak the language. Heck–aside from the fact that the letter resembling a “B” is pronounced like an English V–I am  completely clueless when it comes to the Cyrillic alphabet. But I am drawn to this fascinating country and in fact, if you ask me  the one place in this world I will die a happy woman after having seen, it would be Russia, hands down.  I dream of the day when I get to stand in Moscow’s Red Square and in front of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. Russia has intrigued me since  a production of Fiddler on the Roof as a child, upholding this fascination ever since. In fact, just having a first name like Ivan, Igor or Vladimir is enough to make me swipe right on Tinder. ;) I can chat Russia for hours but I won’t because this isn’t about me; it’s about the Russian Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015.

Personal preferences aside, I can say with full confidence that the Russian Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015, designed by the architectural firm Speech, is a must see. You’ll agree as soon as you catch a glimpse of yourself in the wave-shaped mirror above…I’m not a selfie fan but it’s practically obligatory here as we really have the chance to see ourselves at that particular angle.

Aside from the restaurant where you can sample tasty Russian nosh, delightful gift shop selling matryoshka dolls and other typical Russian wares and an abundant calendar chock full of events, here are five reasons to visit the Russian Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015.  Jackie DeGiorgio; Photos: Russia Pavilion 2015

Nikolai Vavilov's Seed Bank

Seed Bank-Russian Pavilion-Expo Milano 2015 Upon entry, you'll notice that hundreds of massive, back-lit glass tiles comprising the walls, all of which provide a close-up, almost magnified look at certain plants and grains, for all of which you'll find seeds stored in Nikolai Vavilov's Seed Bank in St. Petersburg.

Nikolai Vavilov was a late 19th/early 20th century geneticist and botanist most famous for having discovered the origins of plants. He collected seeds from all over the world and set up one of the world's first seed banks in what was Leningrad at the time, now St. Petersburg. It still is and always was the world's largest collection of plant seeds, and survived the 28-month siege of Leningrad during WWII--botanists starved to death protecting it, refusing to eat the seeds for their own survival.

In maintaining Expo's food security theme and the idea of making sure there is enough for everyone, the seeds in Nikolai Vavilov's seed bank have been shared globally to help damaged lands recover and regrow.

Water Bar

Water Bar-Russian Pavilion-Expo Milano 2015 Russia is home to Lake Baikal, the world's oldest and deepest freshwater lake, which contains 20% of the world's total unfrozen freshwater reserve, and the Volga River, Europe's longest. What fitting way to celebrate all this water than with a water bar? Resembling a laboratory in homage of the great scientific minds to whom the Pavilion pays tribute, the Water Bar staff pours traditional Russian soft drinks. Let me just say this...they are nothing like American ones. There is Tarkhun (tarragon flavored and bright green), Mors (berries), Kvass (Rye bread), and Baikal (herbal).

Tastings take place six times per day on alternating hours, begininng in the water bar and moving on to the.....

Show Kitchen

Show Kitchen-Russian Pavilion-Expo Milano 2015 This big beautiful open kitchen gives visitors to the Russian pavilion a front-row seat to to chefs cooking traditional Russian dishes such as herring, Russian tooth fish also known as white gold, oladushki pancakes, pelmeni (Russian dumpling).

Some of the best and beloved Russian chefs and food personalities will be cooking here.

It's worth pointing out that the kitchen is very cleverly enclosed in an open book because.....

Russian Cuisine: Regional and Modern

English Cookbook-Russian Pavilion-Expo Milano 2015 June 1 marked the English publication of "The Russian Cuisine: Regional and Modern" by Sergey Chernovik. The book tells the stories of the food, recipes and people of the country's 11 different regions, an unprecedented encyclopedia of traditional Russian regional cuisine, with the last chapter devoted to contemporary Russian cuisine. It's big and gorgeous and colorful, and not only does it look great on bookshelves, it's deserving of a place on one. The cookbook is also, obviously, available in Russian. It's a special edition created exclusively for Expo and available for purchase in the Pavilion's souvenir shop, retailing for €119.

Periodic Table of Elements

Periodic Table-Russian Pavilion-Expo Milano 2015 Mentioning the periodic table of elements can transport us right back to our high school chemistry classroom, bunsen burners and all. However, what we all might recall is that a Russian chemist, Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev, created it. In his honor, a digital version projects images of various Russian produce and the elements they contain.