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La Tomatina – the world’s oldest food fight returns to Europa Village Winery in September, 2013

La Tomatina, Bunol, Spain

La Tomatina, Bunol, Spain

How’s your garden growing? More tomatoes than you know what to do with? Then perhaps you can understand the draw of La Tomatina, the world’s oldest and most ridiculous food fight.

Bunol, Spain, (c) Puukibeach via Flickr

Bunol, Spain, (c) Puukibeach via Flickr

You may never have heard of the tiny, Spanish town of Bunol, near Valencia, but at the end of summer, Bunol—a tiny town of under 10-thousand residents—triples its population for La Tomatina, and what has become the world’s largest food fight.

That’s right. I said food fight.

The Bunol party is listed among the 8-strangest-holidays in the world. Go figure.

(c) Jose Ferrer via Flickr

(c) Jose Ferrer via Flickr

Starting at about 11 a.m., the big trucks roll in, loaded down with red, drippy tomatoes and dropping off all at the Plaza del Pueblo.

Here, visitors may notice a couple of oddities.

First, you’ll see the storefronts are mostly draped in plastic. That’s to keep the upcoming tomato-massacre at bay from their plaster and stucco surfaces.

Second, you’ll notice the large upright 2-story wooden pole—the Palojabón—in town square which is where the magic begins in this odd ritual. Because at the tippy-top sits a ham. A Ham. I’m not kidding folks, it gets better.

Third, in order for La Tomatina to officially begin, some brave soul must risk the climbing of that soaped up, 2-story pole (you can’t make this up), and shimmy up to get that ham.

Greased ham pole in Bunol town square (c) Skittlebrau via Flickr

Greased ham pole in Bunol town square (c) Skittlebrau via Flickr

The cobbled plaza fills with mounds of tempting, overripe tomatoes from the nearby growing district, Extremadura, where tomatoes are cheap and plentiful. Waiting for someone to reach and claim that ham. If you make it to the top of the pole and reach the ham, it’s YOURS! Congratulations!

For all that trouble, it better be prosciutto.

While all wait for the great ham-climb, young and old gather to wait and watch. And let’s face it. Sometimes, the tomatoes start flying early.

That's a lot of tomatoes.

That’s a lot of tomatoes.

Food fighters throw their squishy red globs with gusto, hurling the overripe fruit at each other until the streets run red with tomato juice. The food fight lasts approximately an hour.

La Tomatina in Bunol, Spain

La Tomatina in Bunol, Spain

Afterwards, huge water cannons wash the evidence away, spraying guests, streets, everything left out and open, covered in splattered salsa-chunks and leaving all sparkling thanks to the acidic nature of the tomato.

(c) Jose Ferrer via flickr

(c) Jose Ferrer via flickr

Clothes are ruined. Hair is matted. Cameras are ruined. RUINED.

(c) Jose Ferrer via Flickr

(c) Jose Ferrer via Flickr

People wear goggles, protective gear, but still, the tomatoes are flung, catapulted, and zinged back and forth until the last of the overripe veggies are gone.

(c) Jose Ferrer via Flickr

(c) Jose Ferrer via Flickr

And then, the party really starts.

(c) Jose Ferrer via Flickr

(c) Jose Ferrer via Flickr

For those in and around Temecula, California, you’re in luck. No need to book a trans Atlantic flight, La Tomatina has come once again to Europa Village Winery. Tomato tossing in the vines.

Some notes from the pro-food fighters in Europe:

  • Get into it.
  • Don’t throw anything hard. Squish your fruit! Before you toss the tomatoes? Give them a squish. No one wants to get splatted with a hard tomato.
  • Tomatoes in the face?! Protective eye gear is encouraged, as are gloves.
  • What to wear? Do wear close-toed shoes you don’t care if they get stained, or ruined. Don’t wear anything that you mind tossing in the trash can. Your clothes will get ruined. Might want to bring a change of clothes along.
  • No brawling. No ripping of clothes, hair, or fighting allowed. You don’t want to end up in a Bunol jail cell. Trust me.
  • How’s my hair? Don’t worry about your hair. That’s going to get messy. You can clean up later.
  • What about pictures? Leave the picture taking to the pros, with long lenses. This isn’t a facebook moment until after the fight is over.
  • What else can I expect? You will smell like a tomato. So will everyone else.
  • GUARANTEED Chef Dean will have something amazing to eat when the food fight is done.

Fun La Tomatina Facts:

  • Visitors hurl approximately 45-tons of tomatoes at one another.
  • The number of tomatoes crushed and thrown would fill over 14-thousand bottles of ketchup.
  • The juice from the tomatoes thrown would fill 400-thousand Bloody Mary’s.
  • Sauce made from that many tomatoes would cover 550-thousand pizzas.
  • If you chose to eat that many tomatoes? You’d consume over 7.3 million calories.

So, how did this crazy event start?

The first recorded Tomatina was in 1944-45, however the exact origins of the food fight are unclear, even to the residents of Bunol.

Some say it was a food fight among friends, a joke between restaurant owners with more than their fair share of tomatoes. Others say it had more political purposes.

Now, according to La Tomatina Tours, The festival is in honor of the town’s patron saints, Luis Bertran and the Mare de Deu dels Desemparats (Mother of God of the Defenseless), a title of the Virgin Mary. And at Europa Village Winery, proceeds from the event will go toward Rancho Damacitas children’s charity.

Date: Sunday, September 15th @ 4:00pm

The Europa Village Winery event includes:

• Massive Tomato Fight
• Great Food by Chef Dean
• Glass of Wine
• Spanish Guitar by Anthony Garcia
• Souvenir T-Shirt

Tickets: $49.00 / Societe Members: $45.00

For more information, visit: http://store.europavillage.com/events/La-Tomatina


About Ashley Ludwig

Ashley Ludwig is an Editor for Patch News, Orange County and Los Angeles. She is also an inspirational romantic suspense author.

6 comments on “La Tomatina – the world’s oldest food fight returns to Europa Village Winery in September, 2013

  1. Pingback: Win FREE tickets to Europa Village's La Tomatina Celebration! | Temecula Qponer ~ Blogs!Temecula Qponer ~ Blogs!

  2. Pingback: La Tomatina Wine, Dine, and Tomato Fight at Europa Village Winery, 2013 | Temecula Grapevine

  3. Pingback: Travel writing: La Tomatina, Bunol, Spain | Tej Parikh

  4. daniellesbucketlist
    February 23, 2014

    Reblogged this on Danielle's Bucketlist.


  5. Pingback: La Tomatina Wine

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