The World’s Fair used to conjure bits of grainy black and white newsreel in my mind—the debut of historic firsts like ice cream cones, Ferris wheels, and the Statue of Liberty. Not anymore. World Expos, as they are called now, show the latest and greatest from more than 100 countries in a kind of pop-up city: a massive campus of temporary buildings (with mind-boggling architecture), parks, and exhibitions, here for no more than 6 months.

This May, the 2015 World Expo kicked off in Milan, Italy, with a theme: “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” How do we feed a planet of 9 billion people by 2050 in a way that ensures food security, safety, and sustainability? At the expo, each of the 143 participating countries shares their innovations and traditions—a delicious, thought-provoking tour of the future of food around the globe.

In true American fashion, the USA Pavilion brings it big: a 35,000-square-foot, multilevel building with a vertical farm (an entire exterior wall) harvested daily, wood repurposed from the original Coney Island boardwalk, a grove of oak trees, many high-tech displays, and a fleet of food trucks serving everything from lobster rolls to barbecue to cheeseburgers (one of the biggest hits at the expo so far).

The pavilion celebrates our mash-up immigrant food culture, innovations in sustainable farming, local ingredients, as well as a thriving fast casual and small artisan food scene. It’s not a complete picture, of course, but it is provocative and exciting. We are a key player in this huge conversation, and Expo Milano is pushing that conversation forward.

The World Expo runs from May 1st through October 31st of 2015.

A few "only in America" cultural food mash-ups we love: