You would imagine that food fights are something only children indulge in when they’re feeling mischievous – but adults seemingly enjoy it too, and not just when they’re drunk either. Those that enjoy food fights would be best visiting the annual La Tomatina Festival in Valencia; there they can indulge in a really good food fight on a massive scale.
Legendary tomato fight- but how did it start?
As food fights go La Tomatina is a fight with a long and distinguished history going back to the end of the Second World War.There are many theories as to how it started, but
the most popular one is something to do with rabbits eating water melon, people throwing tomatoes at them, accidentally hitting each other and then starting a rather energetic tomato fight. Yes it sounds crazy, but it’s entertaining. Another theory has it that there was a food fight amongst friends, tomatoes thrown at a carnival parade and a joke played on a musician, or even the accidental spillage of a lorry which developed into a tomato fight.
Believe what you will, but whichever way it originally started it has become a popular destination for tourists who want to take part in this legendary tomato throwing fight.
When does it start?
La Tomatina usually starts in August on the last Wednesday in the town of Bunol for the world’s greatest and probably dirtiest food fight. Thousands of people make their way here and it also coincides with a week-long festival of fun that features music, dancing, fireworks and music. Before the Tomato fights those who will be taking part in the fight engage in a competition to see who can make the best paella.
On the day of the fight which starts around 11am in the morning, trucks bring a large supply of tomatoes, for of course, without tomatoes, there will be no fight. These tomatoes are delivered to the centre of the town at the Plaza del Peublo. This fight has a tradition where the fight will not start until someone has climbed to the top of a very high greasy wooden pole and reached the top where he or she will find a piece of ham! Although sometimes the fight can sometimes start before the ham has been reached. Cannons are fired and then the fighting, laughing and shouting begins. Once it starts you take care of yourself and take no prisoners!
Those who like to take part would be advised not to wear anything too expensive and are also advised to wear goggles and gloves if possible. The tomatoes are usually squashed before throwing so they don’t injure someone on the receiving end of a missile throw! Clothes are torn and people really get into the spirit of things, although they are not allowed to bring any other kind of weapon in case they cause a fight that really will end badly.
One hour later…
The fighting is allowed to go on for one whole hour, which one would imagine is enough for anyone; the end of the fight is signalled by the release of water cannons. At this point you must lay down your tomatoes! The streets are cleaned with fire trucks spraying down the streets, although the visitors don’t quite get the same attention.
You either go home and take a shower or bath, or throw yourself in the local river.
Bunol is a town in the province of Valencia in Spain and the festival is in honour of two patron saints. Both the festival and the tomato fight are not to be missed opportunities to let your hair down and have some serious fun!
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