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.