Thousands Gather in Spain to Throw Tomatoes at Each Other

Hey! I was going to eat that!

By Ethan L. Johns
August 31, 2017

Image: Pablo Blasquez Dominguez / Getty

August 31, 2017
— Strap on your fighting goggles and an old t-shirt, because there will be battle. There will be projectiles. And the streets will run red… with 160 tons of crushed, ripe tomatoes.

On Wednesday, 20,000 people from around the world converged on the Spanish city of Buñol to participate in the annual Tomatina festival. 72 years after the festival’s first occurrence (which is said to have been the result of a dispute between two locals), La Tomatina has become a ticketed event in order to better manage the countless masses who would like to participate in its brand of tomato warfare. Some rules are in place to keep people safe, namely that tomatoes must be crushed before they are thrown (otherwise that tomato could take an eye out!).

Controversy has arisen around the event in past years over the festival’s wasting of food, most notably in 2016, when the event took place in the middle of an an outbreak of what has been described as a “Tomato Ebola” that killed 80 percent of Nigeria’s annual crop. Whether or not the outrage was justified (the town’s mayor explained to the BBC that the tomatoes used for La Tomatina were basically rotten), it is certainly understandable: we’d much rather use tomatoes to make a fresh gazpacho.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns