Late August means the height of tomato season, which means tomato salads, tomato sandwiches, fresh tomato sauce, beautiful, beautiful tomatoes everywhere. It’s a glorious time, an epoch to be savored, one that we can look back on in the depths of winter when there are no tomatoes outside a can except those hard, pinkish supermarket abominations. But the people of Buñol, Spain, choose to celebrate tomato season with La Tomatina, a massive tomato fight on the last Wednesday in August, a beloved civic tradition that goes back to 1945.
Yesterday at 11 a.m., 145 tons of tomatoes were unloaded from six trucks in the Buñol’s main square, and 20,000 people who had paid 12 Euros apiece and spent the previous two hours attempting to climb a greased pole in order to capture a ham suspended from the top, proceeded to spend the next hour chucking perfectly good tomatoes at one another. (Ballers paid an extra fee for the privilege of chucking the tomatoes off the truck into the crowd.) After that, Buñol’s fire department used high-pressure hoses to sluice down the streets. And then there was feasting and fireworks.
Yes, we are outraged over the waste and the mess. The horror! The horror! The good people of Buñol, or at least their PR team, have made it known that the tomatoes were nearly rotten and that the acid from the juice does a swell job of cleaning the juice off the streets. Maybe this could be a new and novel way of cleaning an oven?