La Tomatina

Bunol, Spain

La Tomatina photo
Photograph courtesy of The Guardian

La Tomatina

Words by Paul Dodson

On the last Wednesday of August each year thousands of revellers converge on the small Spanish town of Buñol to pick a fight. 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.

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.

Come Wednesday and 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. At around about noon, a number of trucks carrying the edible red grenades rumble their way into the main Town Square to the chant of "tomatos, tomatoes, tomatoes" from the now drunken crowd. Chivalry slinks out of town for a while as everyone becomes fair game. Red missiles are a dime a dozen, no-one escapes.

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.

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Buñol is about 30km from Valencia.

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