Let’s meet in Kazakhstan

We present the pavilion and the traditional food of the state to host the "mini-Expo" in 2017

10-10-2015
The exterior of the pavilion of Kazakhstan, one of

The exterior of the pavilion of Kazakhstan, one of the most beautiful and visited at Expo 2015. It presents Astana 2017, that is to say the next mini-World Fair, scheduled in two years time for 3 months

“A country so big, of which we know so little”: this statement marvellously sums up the reason that led Kazakhstan to participate in Expo with a pavilion rich of investments and attractions; it has a total of 2,496 square metres and aims at making visitors sensitive about the safeguard of agricultural and natural resources, the culture and the idea of a sustainable development.

Between Europe and Asia, previously part of the Ussr, this state is certainly little known in the West. Yet it is a giant that has been walking for some time now – with all the inevitable contradictions, especially in terms of democracy – towards economic development. It has a monstre dimension of over 2.7 millions of square kilometres (nine times as much as Italy, for example), but doesn’t reach 17.5 million inhabitants.

A rendering of the emblem-building of Astana 2017
A rendering of the emblem-building of Astana 2017
In other words, it has much to say. It does so at Expo, wrapping the visitors – after the queue “livened up” by the now notorious Kazak singers – in a whirl of information, images and emotions. This sends visitors to Astana, the new capital (which took the place of the historic Almaty, called Alma-Ata in Soviet times), one million inhabitants and a 6-hour flight from Milan. It’s the classic city born in the middle of nowhere with futuristic buildings; it wants to stand out in the collective imagery as a metropolis from the future, and it will do so by hosting the next edition of the “mid-term Expo”, in this case between Milan 2015 and Dubai 2020, which can already boast impressive numbers: between 10th June and 10th September 2017, for 3 months, the Kazak capital will host over 100 nations, with 5 million expected visitors, on the theme of “Energy of the future”.

Let’s return to the present day. In fact to the past because the pavilion of Kazakhstan aims first of all at telling the story of a young state with strong roots in the rocks, the same where incisions dating back to over 3 thousand years ago are inscribed. Then the first forms of state union between the nomad populations of the region occurred, with the Kazan’ khan, between the XV and XVI centuries. An experience that was interrupted by Ivan the Terrible, that is to say Tsar Ivan IV, who in 1552 ended their independence and opened centuries of Russian domination. Until freedom returned in 1991.

These episodes are recalled through a fascinating artistic performance with sand. It is the beginning of a journey divided in different rooms, starting with the presentation of the Kazak agronomic science, natural resources, use of water, new sustainable agricultural techniques and aquaculture (there’s an aquarium with sturgeons from the Caspian sea, from which the famous caviar is made). We taste kumis, fermented cow’s milk, with a strong flavour.

And then there’s the history of apples, which all derive from Kazak ancient varieties; an installation emanating the scent of wild tulips (they have 30 different varieties). It was from here that in the XVI century they got to the botanic garden in Leiden, Holland, giving origin to a tradition we know well). The exhibit ends with a 3D room, with dynamic chairs that respond to the stimuli given by the film: a beautiful experience, which is by itself worth the queue.

Lagman pasta, horse salad, a small dish with basturma echeburek: a very enjoyable meal at the Kazak restaurant
Lagman pasta, horse salad, a small dish with basturma echeburek: a very enjoyable meal at the Kazak restaurant

Of course all these elements have resulted in a food tradition that owes much to the nomad world. You can hear its echo in the pavilion’s restaurant, an interesting place of good quality. Don’t by surprised to find pasta, as it appears that it was on these routes, from East to West, that the use of fresh pasta of Chinese origins inspired in some way (though the subject is a matter of controversy), Italy’s dry pasta.


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