Have you ever been in a food fight? Someone throws a spoonful of peas at someone sitting cross the table and then total chaos erupts in the school cafeteria leaving you wondering, “who the heck is going to clean that up?” At least that’s what happens in movies. Ladies and gentlemen, I, Beth, of Where the F is Beth, have never been in a food fight! I felt like I needed to check it off my never ending to do list, but I wasn’t going to settle for a spoonful of measly peas. When I do something, I like to do the best, the biggest, the MOST ridiculous. So, I journeyed to the small village of Buñol, Spain and took part in the world’s biggest food fight — La Tomatina.
Our day began at the crack of dawn. We were instructed to be at the Plaza de Tetuan at 6am, at which time the busses would leave and whisk us to Buñol! The bus ride was fast and easy, and when we arrived, we joined hoards of other busses. They say 22,000 people attend this festival, that’s a lot of busses! The crowd wandered through the village and down the hill, to the old town. We walked past the street where the fight would take place and saw that all the locals had covered their houses and balconies in tarps. To get us ready for the fight, Festivals All Around had a big pre-party with free sangria and live music.
After a few drinks in our bellies, we left the party and walked to where some of the festivities had begun. As we walked, the locals sprayed us with water! Water dumped off balconies, hoses sticking through the holes in the tarps and men on the streets, splashing buckets of water at us! The first part of La Tomatina is when the attendees try to climb a huge pole covered in grease, and snatch the jamón (ham) from the top. We stood in the crowd and watched as multiple soaking wet, sangria drunk men and women clambered on top of each other for their chance at La Tomatina glory. They say the tomato fight doesn’t begin until the jamón is claimed, but while we stood there and watched attempt after failed attempt, a local nearby said nobody has reached it in five years. We left the crowd and moved back up to the skinny street where the tomato trucks would be driving through.
Finally, we heard a truck horn! They’re coming! The tomatoes are coming! The trucks drove down the dangerously skinny streets and we were pushed up right against the tarps to allow them to pass. I reached into my fanny pack and took out my swim goggles. I’m ready. People stood in the backs of the trucks, throwing tomatoes down on to the streets. Chaos ensued. Pick up a tomato, squish the tomato in your hand, throw the tomato at a total stranger, repeat…until the next truck blares its horn, drives around the corner, and empties its contents onto the street. Six trucks went by. I think. Maybe seven. It’s all a blur — tomatoes flying past me, pulp showering me from all sides. The fight continued for an hour. I didn’t stop laughing for a second.
The streets ran red with tomato juice. I stood ankle deep in the mush. Tomato puree dripped off my head, into my ears, down my back, and into unmentionable places. My throat hurt from being pelted with an unripe tomato, my knees hurt from falling onto the tomato-wet pavement, my face hurt from smiling too much. Best. Day. Ever.