La Tomatina

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Spain's Tomato Battle

By: © Michael J. Rosen 2014

"Tomatoes Must Be Crushed Before Throwing."

- from www.spanish-fiestas.com

The sport of La Tomatina obeys many laws of science:

There's physics: Spherical projectiles move through space with a predictable diminishing velocity as they encounter resistance, inertia, and correlation bounce. Chaos theory also comes into play.

Elements of biology are there, too: Organisms of the species Homo sapiens exhibit survival-of-the-fittest skills in a complex micro-ecosystem.

The central theme of La Tomatina is botanical, centered around Lycopersicon lycopersicum, a herbaceous, usually sprawling plant in the Solanaceae family (common name, tomato).

There's meteorology: How to forecast a gross front moving in, with good chance of ketchup showers.

But contrary to all this evidence, La Tomatina, an annual, city-wide, tomato riot, remains an inexact science. One would think that after 63 - or is it 64? - years, the residents of Buņol, Valencia, Spain, would have their facts straight. Some say La Tomatina uses 150,000 tomatoes. Other claim the number is over 1 million. Various sources declare that the weight of the flying fruit totals 90,000 pounds, 224,000 pounds, or maybe 280,000 pounds (that's 140 tons).

Historians, let alone tomato hurlers, don't even know how this insanity began, although the holiday was banned at one point "for having no religious significance." Some say the tradition began when diners got out of hand at a local restaurant. Others think tomatoes were used to appease a youngster who had turned violent after trying to join a parade of Gigantes y Cabezudos (giant figures with big heads) and unintentionally knocked one over. Another version tells the story of locals using the fruit to attack an unpopular city councilman at a town festival.

There is consensus on one thing: The world's largest food fight results in a bowl of salsa the size of a town square with 20,000 - or is it 50,000? - humans dipping in like tortilla chips.

Held on the last Wednesday in August as part of a festival to honor Buņol's patron saint, the battle begins when a courageous participant ascends a 20-foot greased wooden pole to retrieve a coveted ham. (Once again, asking "Why?" only yields further mystery and groans from those who keep kosher.) The blasts of water cannons then signal the official start of the fight, during which participants must squish the tomatoes for safety precautions. Goggles are also highly recommended, in addition to a standard uniform of a t-shirt and shorts destined for the garbage.

After an hour, during which time everything turns shades of pink and red, cannons are fired again to signal the end of the war. Fire trucks then hose down the town and flush the pulp away.Marvelously, the tomatoes (their pH ranges from 3.9 to 4.9, with citric acid being the most abundant component) actually acid-washes the streets clean.

Even science couldn't engineer an ending that perfect.

No Dribbling the Squid

No Dribbling the Squid by Michael J. RosenThe above article is just one of a collection of off-beat articles on 2camels from Michael J. Rosen's wonderful No Dribbling the Squid - your front-row seat to 70 of the world's most mind-blowing feats of strength, endurance, and eccentricity.

For more info check out the No Dribbling the Squid Facebook fan page or Michael's very own website.

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Purchase No Dribbling the Squid now from Amazon.co.uk

La Tomatina - The World's Biggest Food Fight

By: © Paul Dodson 2014

On the last Wednesday of August each year an estimated 10,000 people converge on the small Spanish town of Buņol to get down and get dirty.

Nothing strange about that, I mean who doesn't enjoy a little debauchery every now and again. It's just the way in which they get their kicks that makes for a memorable, if sticky experience.

As history spells it out, what began in 1944 as a simple tomato fight between a group of friends in the town's main square - the Plaza del Pueblo - has turned into arguably the worlds largest food fight. Actually, there is very little to argue about.

The festivities begin in the week leading up to La Tomatina with a celebration of the towns' Patron Saint. Fireworks light the heavy summer sky while street parties warm up at ground level. Rose wine flows and the hefty scent of wood fired paella fills the air. Music plays and people dance, a festival in full swing using any definition you care to apply.

But the majority of revelers are here for one thing and one thing alone - the chance to run amok with 90,000 pounds of gooey, squishy fruit - the rest is just a bonus.

Early Wednesday morning as a prelude to the inevitable result of encouraging thousands of people to throw fruit at each other, shopkeepers along the Plaza line their storefronts and doors with plastic sheeting.

Within hours the Town Square is awash with travellers and locals alike. Seasoned veterans mix with wide eyed first timers as more rose wine is passed around and the excitement level grows.

Then at around about noon, a number of trucks carrying the edible red grenades rumble their way into the main Town Square to the unimaginative chant of "tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes" from the now drunken crowd. Not wanting to disappoint the eager hordes, locals known as 'instigators' begin unloading their cargo on the assembled throng from the back of the trucks. And not being the types to take this sort of thing lying down the revelers return fire. So before you know it and totally to plan, you've got a tomato fight on your hands.....and your faces and your backs. You get the picture and what a messy shot it is.

Chivalry slinks out of town for a while as everyone becomes fair game. Red missiles are a dime a dozen, no-one escapes. It all begins and ends within the space of an hour. Little is sacred, although some rules do apply - foremost, tomatoes must be squashed in the hand before hurling. Not unreasonable.

The aftermath looks a little like a latter scene in Carrie. The ground, a fantastic base for the worlds largest Bolognese sauce. As exhausted combatants trudge their way towards temporary showers put in place for the event, the cleanup begins in earnest. And within hours, the Plaza del Pueblo magically returns to its former glory.

La Tomatina Video

Five tons of tomato-based fun! La Tomatina held every August in the usually peaceful town of Buņol, Spain sees thousands of nutters gather to the partake in the world's largest food fight. Check out this vid from the team at Journeyman Pictures and marvel at the fact the camera still works by the end of it.

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