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The Tomatina in Bunol – A fiesta with a tomato fight

We all know that the Costa Blanca is famous for tasty oranges but just 30 miles away from Valencia in the small village of Bunol it is a different story. The produce they are famous for is not the succulent oranges but the tasty tomato and are better known for wearing it rather than eating it. Bunol now host the worlds largest food fight, which means that you can throw as many tomatoes as you can at what ever moves or not, which is held the last Wednesday of every August.

The ''Batalla'', as it is called, is the culmination of a week packed with events celebrating the fiesta with every one busy making plans for the big fight. According to the locals, to make the best plans you need more wine and food, and that is all available here in abundance.

As all good food fights start, it is usually between few friends, and that's how it started in the 1940's. The reasons have been lost in the past, but it did start in the square with a few friends chucking tomatoes at each other and eventually at any one that moved. Other passers by were soon drawn into the melee with everyone involved including city officials and any one else that came into the line of fire. It became so much fun that it was repeated each year to become what it is to day.

To experience this fun once again, a trip to the small village of Bunol in Spain is in order . The residents, 20,000 of them, have made this a full blown fiesta with parades, fireworks, food and street parties. The Tomatina, as it is appropriately called, lasts for a week leading up to the food fight. Not that it is important, but Tomatina coincides with the festival for the town's patron saint which has also been awarded the International Tourist Interest certification. The night before the epic battle, the narrow streets below the medieval bell tower is the site for cooking the tomatoes in a more palatable form unlike the next day. Tonight you can find the true taste of Spain in the paellas which are cooked over traditional wood burning fires, all of this along the Concurso des Paellas, near the Plaza del Pueblo. This is where the epic battle will take place in the morning. As the wine flows and the plates are full, its time to plan your strategy for the fight and you will find that more wine helps make the right decision.

On Wednesday morning every one is making preparations for the big event, the business owners are covering up their windows and doors in order to protect them from the predictable mess. It's at this point that large trucks, loaded with tomatoes, pull into the square along the cobblestone streets. Imagine this, the streets are filled to capacity, the official instigators are standing atop of the trucks piled high with tomatoes, and at this point all hell breaks loose with some over ripe tomatoes being thrown into the crowd. Remember you need to squash them before you throw them, they make a bigger mess.

Now is the time to remember those well made plans or not. What you need to do is find as many tomatoes as you can hold at one time. The best targets are people with cameras or baseball hats, because they are definitely not from the village and need to participate in this madness as well. In the end the streets are so full of tomato guts and seeds there's enough sauce for next years paellas.

This madness takes about one and a half hours to dispose of 90,000 pounds of tomatoes which have been thrown at anyone that moves, runs, stands still or tries to fight back. Once there is nothing else to throw it's time to once again make friends, forgive and forget, until next year that is. Also a trip to the local river is definitely called for to remove the remains of the tomatoes from yourself as you are probably red all over. Remember who hit you first though as it's good to be prepared for next year, so bring on the wine and let's make plans for the next time.

If you are staying in Holiday Villas in Valencia at this time of the year and are brave enough to take part in the food fight, you will have great fun but prepare to get messy!