As a tomato lover, I always thought I’d get the most pleasure out of growing my own garden and eating them in every recipe I could possibly think of. I’m more than just an enthusiast though, and I like to spend my time with other enthusiasts and hear what they have to say about the, well, not quite industry, but you get the gist. One day I was talking to a fellow gardener who told me about his trip in 2010 to Valencia, Spain, for the tomato festival. And boy, what a festival it is.
Let’s put it this way if you like eating tomatoes, like a lot of tomatoes, raw, and in your face, you’ll love the festival. Every year on a date at the end of August thousands of revelers get together in Bunol Valencia to celebrate the tomato, which is, of course, a staple food in Spain. How do they celebrate the tomato!? Do they have them at each other? Some people are there to celebrate their beloved fruit, some people are there to get a good wallop in and some people are in it to get mushy and hear some Spanish guitar. Any way you look at it, it’s the day of the tomato, and that can’t be a bad thing.
I just had to experience this for myself so two years later I made my way to Spain for the festival. I was going to Europe, Spain specifically, so I was going to do a lot more than just hurl some tomatoes and get soaked in lycopene. I spent two weeks in the country and saw so many new ways to use our favorite fruit, from salads to stews and soups and just plain with a little salt like many gardeners here do. I guess there was something good that came out of America’s for the conquistadors because the Spaniards sure know how to use those things.
The festival has been taking place since the 40′s and well, nobody is sure how it began, but some think it was just a small food fight among friends.
After a week in Spain, I arrive in Valencia for the festival at the end of August. It starts off kind of slow, people kinda packed in together in the narrow streets, nothing happening. And then… wallop, you get that smack from your favorite fruit and you just start hurling. I’m an aficionado for growing, cooking and tasting, but it sure was fun to just celebrate the thing I love. I got smacked around, I hurled some and I ended up as red as, well, a ripe tomato. I kind of felt like a really bad stand up comic. Boy, I envy those guys, free tomatoes!
Here’s a great video from the festival (hear the story and just wait to watch the craziness): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzWWhqL0ruY
If you’re a tomato lover, you’ll want to make the mecca one year. The way our favorite crop is celebrated is like none other in Valencia, and that’s fun to see. Here is a great site that sets-up tours for the festival: http://www.latomatinatours.com/. Look at those pictures!
The festival dates for the future so you can plan your visit are:
August 27. 2014
August 26. 2015
August 31st. 2016
If you can’t get there by 2016. Well, you’re missing out! The festival is really a lot of fun and I recommend it for tomato lovers or anyone looking to get splashed!