You say tomato. I say La Tomatina!

Well, great news!  Did you know that America now has it’s own version of the famous tomato fight known as La Tomatina?  I didn’t either until yesterday when I received an invitation to the upcoming event in Portland called Tomato Battle.  First, a little history on the original which is held every August in Bunol, Spain.  The tomato fight has been a tradition in Brunol since 1945.  Yes, for 67 years people have been hurling tomatoes at each other in the name of juicy red fun.  Except, of course, when that pesky Franco ruled Spain and “fun” was cancelled pretty much altogether.  Now a week long festival draws up to 30,000 people from all over the world for music, parades, dancing and fireworks.  On the night before the tomato fight, participants of the festival compete in a paella cooking contest (One of hubby’s favs).  Shopkeepers use huge sheets of plastic to cover the fronts of stores and buildings in an attempt to protect them from the mess.  Around 11:00 a.m. truckloads of tomatoes are hauled into the town square.  This, of course, is all just leading up to the big event.  The fun officially begins when one brave (crazy?) soul has managed to climb to the top of a two story high greased-up wooden pole and reached the ham (I kid you not!) that sits at the top.  Once this meaty prize has been claimed, the water cannons are fired and the battle begins.  What does one wear to a tomato fight?  Bathing suit, goggles, gloves and non-slip shoes of course.  There are LOTS of rules but it still looks like crazed chaos to me.  After exactly one hour, the cannons are fired again and the fighting stops.  The streets are cleaned and everyone goes home to get ready for next year.

With our American focus on all things food – eating contests, pumpkin chucking and the like, I’m surprised that it took so long for this particular version of the “worlds largest food fight” to cross the pond.  I’m not surprised that some creative thinkers from Seattle came up with the idea.    Started in 2011, this group of pranksters have taken their battle on the road.  Since I can’t make it to Spain this year for the real thing, I’ve already got tickets for Tomato Battle Portland.  One Northwest twist which made me feel a little better about the wastefulness of all this merriment.  They only use tomatoes that are already slated for the dumpster which makes this a fun disposal method of no longer edible food.

Got goggles?  Want to join us?  Maybe we’ll just enjoy the music, drink some wine and watch the festivities with camera in hand – but it still looks like fun to me.  Those crazy Spaniards!

If you don’t live in Portland, check out the website, Tomato Battle may be coming to your town soon.


4 thoughts on “You say tomato. I say La Tomatina!

  1. Man, just hand over the shaker of salt and I’ll catch them mid air for a feast (unless they are truly destined for the dumpster!). Can’t wait to hear your report on The Battle!

  2. If want to travel in style to the real La Tomatine with an international bunch of fun people, check out the Tomatina Tour on We take you to the heart of the fight in a luxury coach, and afterwards it’s on to a country restaurant for showers, a swim and Paella (with lots of booze) followed by some more swimming an sun befor we return you to Valencia with a free tee shirt to commemorate the day.
    They are also experts on the city and can offer all sorts of help and advice on anything from accommodation to drinking, dining and sightseeing during your stay in the beautiful city of Valencia.

    • Thank you! It is absolutely on my list of great things to do. Unfortunately, it won’t be this year. I will pass along your tour information as well to anyone who is looking to attend this wonderful and chaotic expression of fun.

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