La Tomatina Festival, Spain

29 images Created 11 Feb 2013

The Spanish LOVE to eat tomatoes and according to Fruittoday Euromagazine, they eat 17 kilos per person annually! As with all Mediterranean cuisines, the tomato is an essential ingredient of Spanish cooking. The Spanish eat tomatoes every day and prepare them in a variety of ways, including fresh, crushed, stewed or simmered in a sauce. Tomato sauce is served on the side with fried eggs, chicken, meat and omelets at most Spanish dinner tables.

Since one of the principal tomato-growing regions of Spain is the southeast, including Murcia and Valencia, it seems appropriate that the famous tomato fight takes place in Buñol, just west of the capital city of Valencia.

It's not too hard to understand that La Tomatina festival started by accident. According to all accounts, there was a parade and festival in Buñol on the last Wednesday of August of 1945 when a fight broke out between some young men. Taking advantage of a nearby fruit and vegetable vendor's stall, they threw tomatoes at each other. The police broke up the altercation and those responsible ended up paying restitution to the tomato vendor.

Apparently planning ahead, the following year the young people brought tomatoes with them to the parade and started a tomato fight again. Each year the fight continued until the early 1950's when it was prohibited by order of the town council, but some townsfolk insisted on creating a fight and were thrown in jail. Protests ensued, including a "Tomato Funeral" and finally, in 1957 the town council allowed the fight to continue. In fact, since 1980 the city government has provided the tomatoes!
La Tomatina Today

The celebration continue to take place on the last Wednesday in August in the plaza mayor of Buñol. The Tomatina starts at 11:00am with the sound of a rocket being fired and ends one hour later. Last year 40,000 people were expected to participate in throwing over 100 tons of ripe tomatoes in the streets and this year even more are expected.
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