18842OT: Institutionalized Food Fight ! (tomatoes, of course, what did you expect?)
- Oct 5, 2006From:
Where's the Party? (with minor edits)
The world's biggest food fight takes place at the Plaza Del Pueblo in
the small town of Buñol in Spain.
Dates for the Diary
La Tomatina happens every year on the last Wednesday in August and is
the highlight of a week-long local festival in honour of the town's
patron saint, San Luis Bertràn, and the Virgin Mary. The actual tomato
throwing lasts for only two hours between 11am and 1pm. (Two hours?
OK, sounds good, I'll bite).
What's It All About?
During the week leading up to the world famous tomato war, parades,
fireworks, music, dancing and the paella cook-off contest draw
visitors to Buñol for the annual fiesta. When the day of the great
battle dawns, local shopkeepers diligently cover their shopfronts with
sheets of plastic and twenty thousand local folk and tourists take to
the streets, as trucks loaded with around 125,000 kilos of ripe ammo
roll into the Plaza del Pueblo. Between 11am and 1pm, the streets are
awash with juice, pavements are spattered with pulp and the
participants transformed into walking, talking Bloody Marys.
As soon as the siren signalling the end of La Tomatina is sounded, the
massive clean up operation gets underway. Water is pumped from a
nearby Roman aqueduct and by mid afternoon there¹s barely any trace
left of the messy melée that has taken place, much less the stench of
fruit lingering in the streets.
The first Tomatina took place in 1945, but no-one seems to know
exactly how it all started. Some say it began as a fracas between a
group of friends, others claim the tradition was started at a
political rally. One of the most likely accounts is that brawling
bystanders at a carnival parade seized the contents of a nearby
vegetable stall, and began throwing tomatoes at their opponents.
Initially the authorities did their best to ban what quickly became an
annual battle, but in 1959 they eventually entered into the spirit of
the event and it became an institution.
Whatever the real reason for the first tomato war, one things for
sure: these days participants need no excuse to pelt each other with
squished tomatoes, they do it just for fun!
Visitors from within the European Community don't need a visa to
travel to Spain. Americans and Australians can stay in Spain for up to
three months without a visa. If you're planning to stay longer or are
in any doubt contact the Spanish Consulate or Embassy in your home
country before you leave.
The nearest airport to Buñol is 30 miles away in Valencia. To get to
the festival you'll need to take a local bus or hire a car to drive there.
It is also possible to get to Buñol by train, either from Valencia or
Where to Stay
Accommodation in Buñol is limited. There are places to stay to suit
all budgets in nearby Valencia, but it¹s still advisable to book
ahead. For information on places to stay contact the tourist
information at Valencia.
La Tomatina is the ultimate free for all. You don¹t need to a ticket
to take part, just show up.
Because most people who take part in the Tomatina come to Buñol on a
day trip from Valencia, all you'll need is money for your train or bus
fare and perhaps for a bite to eat after the battle. As you'd expect,
many of the participants are alcohol fuelled, even in the morning so
you might want to bring some beer (or rose wine) money with you too. A
return ticket from Valencia by train costs around US$3, or US$2 by bus
one way (there are no return bus tickets). See below for contact
details for train and bus timetables.
Once You're There
Don't wear your holiday best and beware that anything white wont stay
clean and bright for very long (duh!). People wearing baseball caps or
carrying cameras are considered prime targets for everyone, so if
you¹re determined to take pictures bring a see-though waterproof bag.
There aren't many rules to tomato warfare, but those that do exist are
in the interests of safety and public decency:
l) You can throw tomatoes and tomatoes only.
2) They must be squashed before you throw them, otherwise they can
cause a nasty bruise.
3) Although the locals tend to rip each others clothing, it is
officially forbidden and as a visitor, you will be expected to behave.
Apart from La Tomatina, there isn't much in Buñol to keep the visitor
out of mischief. It is worth spending time in nearby Valencia, which
is renowned for its lively nightlife and as the birthplace of paella.
The fantastic Las Fallas festival is held in Valencia in March, when
the people parade through the streets with 50ft high papier-mâché
sculptures (known as fallas) which are constructed by local artisans
and made to look like politicians or celebrities. (Is this what
inspired Pujari?) These grotesque structures are set alight on the
last night of the festival, amid much jollity (jollity?) and celebration.
Other highlights of the province of Valencia include a visit to the
medieval fortress town of Morello, the Roman ruins at Sagunto and the
historic palm gardens at Elx.
Food is an integral part of many festivals around the world, but
people are usually more interested in eating it, rather than throwing
it at each other. There is another famous food fight which takes place
three days before the beginning of lent in the town of Ivrea, in the
Piedmont area of Italy - but here oranges are used as ammo.
The Spanish seem to have more festivals than any other country -
certainly in Europe - and Tomatina is by no means the most bizarre.
Each village will have at least one fiesta during the year. Because of
the position of el toro (the bull) is Spanish culture, many of them
will have some degree of tormenting animals. Contact the Spanish
Tourist Office for more details.
submitted by D.
(oh yeah, tomato fight, like maybe you thought this was submitted by
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