The festival of La Tomatina in Spain gives new meaning to the expression 'playing with your food'. For most of the year, Buñol is a ho-hum industrial town, about 40km (25m) from Valencia, quietly going about its own business. But come the last Wednesday of August, the town's streets turn into a salsa riot, with over 20,000 revellers pelting each other with large, red, squishy tomatoes.
There are lots of theories on how the festival started; one is that it began in 1945 with anti-Franco protests, although any link between Franco and tomatoes remains ambigous. Another theory is that it started when two friends had a stand-up knock-down argument while sharing a meal. The argument quickly reached food-throwing proportions, infected acquaintances and nearby diners, moved out into the street, spread through the suburbs, progressed to neighbouring towns and eventually wound up as an annual event that attracted 'mata throwers from all corners of the the world.
The most likely explanation is that it started as a juvenile class war between bare-footed Troskyist macarras and el-ivy leaguers staying at Papa's summer house, the latter passing the former in a provocative way - that is to say, within tomato-throwing range. Like gangs of adolescents anywhere, it soon became a point of honour and a mark of tribal loyalty to make a stand at the tomato-stained barriers. As the event turned into a national event it lost its hostile political edge and became, instead, an unbridled Dionysian riot of flesh-baring bodies covered head to toe in tomato goo.
The standard uniform is an old T-shirt, old shorts and eye goggles. T-shirts with bullseyes printed on them are not recommended. Nearly 140 tonnes of tomatoes are trucked in from around the countryside and the argy-bargy begins with the firing of a rocket. An hour later the end of the festival is announced with the firing of another rocket and the clean up of the tomato-slimed streets begin.
La Tomatina takes place in Buñol, a small town about 40km (about 25 miles) west of Valencia and well connected by train and bus.
On the last Wednesday of August, at the peak of tomato season, between 10 am and 1 pm. Everybody enjoys and the streets turn into rivers of tomato juice.
I spent a few days in Valencia in March. If you haven't been to "las Fallas de Valencia" you don't know what a party is!! They burn huge monuments made of wood and cardboard in the middle of the streets. There are thousands of "Fallas", firecrackers, and festivals everywhere!!
My friends and i stayed in Red Hostel and saved a lot of money for going out. The hostel staff told us where to go, how to get to parties and even a handsome receptionist went out with us to the beach!!
They have internet, air conditioning, kitchen, shared and private rooms... It's open 24/7 and waiting for us after party. Our rooms were coloured painted and we saw the river of Valencia by the window!! Best holidays ever had in a lovely hostel!!
Paelltertainment. The twice-weekly paella-cooking presentation on the roof of Home Backpackers is less a gastronomic than a comic experience, as the resident chef regales his audience with a mix of instructions and anecdotes in (deliberately, you suspect) awful Spanglish. And all that while cooking up a giant, delicious version of this quintessential Valenciano dish – served with a cold beer and a joke.
When? Tuesday and Sunday evenings.
Where? Roof terrace of Home Backpackers.
Address: Plaza Vicente Iborra, Barrio del Carmen.
Telephone: (34-96) 3913797.
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