A long time ago, when I was in college I watched a travel show which featured the Spanish event: La Tomatina! The festival is celebrated on the last wednesday of August, in the town of Bunol, in Valencia, Spain. There are numerous festivities which lead to this final celebration of tomatoes, such as : food stalls, street parties, parades, dancing, fireworks, etc.
It is quite a costly celebration, that their city council spends up to about USD15000. However, attracting up to 40,000 tourists and visitors who travel 38 kms from the city of Valencia, this Tomatina festival offers so much more that it has been ongoing since the year 1945. Quite a while now! When I saw this festival on television I thought to myself I should try this and experience this in my lifetime. Well, I guess not this year, sadly.
The celebration begins mid morning, when the lucky person has reached for the ham at the top of the greased pole. Water cannons are fired up onto the street filled with people (dressed in hopefully not white tees), who armed with their eye goggles and gloves. Although tomatoes are squished before being thrown, it is always best to keep safe and cautious of the chaotic-tomato filled hour. The Tomatina ends in about an hour, with the water cannon firing away signalling the end. Time for clean up, and the people head towards the Bunol river to rinse, while the local council clean the streets. Another end to a good time, until next year again when the city comes alive with tomatoes in the air. They say it takes experiencing it to appreciate the event. Otherwise, one just feels tomato rotten about the wasted fruit.
I've gathered a few trivia on tomatoes:
- Botanically, Tomatoes are fruits
- The tomato seeds are source of vitamin C
- A tomato plant can produce up to 15 tomatoes in a season
- French people refer to tomatoes as the "apple of love", while the Germans refer to it as the "apple of paradise"
- There are more than 4000 varieties of tomato, ranging in size, shape and colour