La_Tomatina

The popular La Tomatina festival takes place in Buñol, Valencia, next Wednesday 29th August, with an imitation festival also being held in central London this Saturday.

Intrigued? Well, while this unconventional title does require a little bit of explanation, it is in fact completely true. The answer lies in Spanish culture, its agriculture and specifically its festivals; one of which is set to be celebrated – albeit on a much smaller scale – in London this Saturday

To shed some light on this, I must begin by explaining that said Spanish festival is La Tomatina, which is popularly referred to as the “tomato-throwing festival”.

Originating in 1945 in Buñol – a town in the province of Valencia whose population is just shy of 10,000 – La Tomatina traditionally takes place on the last Wednesday of August and involves, among other traditions, a massive tomato-launching food fight.

Somewhere in the region of 150 tonnes of the specially-grown, inedible red tomatoes are flung during the celebrations, which go on for just over an hour!

People come from all over the world to attend this (formerly parroquial) event, meaning the town’s population swells to over 40,000 around the time of the festivities.

It is now so popular that Spanish eatery Aqua Nueva on London’s fashionable Oxford Street is hosting a miniature version of the tomato-chucking festival at its premises on Saturday from 12.30pm. If you happen to be in London and you fancy partaking in a slice of Spanish fruit-flinging, you can get your tickets here>>

So, that’s half the riddle… but “bull’s eggs”? Huh? Well, this is the literal – and more politically correct – translation of one of Málaga province’s prized gastronomical exports; the Huevo de Toro tomato.

Cultivated in Coín and the fertile grounds of the Guadalhorce Valley, the Huevo de Toro is an especially juicy and plump variety of tomato, used in many dishes like salads and Spain’s iconic gazpacho soup, and it normally weighs between 300 and 600 grams… and sometimes as hefty as one kilogram.

So imagine being copped in the face with one. Evidently, this is one reason for not using this red grenade in a fruit fight.

Another is the price. At market, the fruit changes hands for around two euros per kilo, but just last week a single box of Huevo de Toro tomatoes was sold for 2,700 euros at a fundraising event in Coín. Admittedly, this eye-watering auction bid was destined for a good cause – in this case the Coín Alzheimer’s Association – but the point is that this is not a fruit to be disposed of lightly, like the protagonists at La Tomatina.

If you live on the sunny Costa del Sol, now is the time to enjoy these juicy red tomatoes, since an estimated two million kilos were harvested in the Guadalhorce Valley less than a month ago.

Let us know in the comments below if you have ever been to the La Tomatina festival, or if you have your own recipe for Coín’s favourite Huevo de Toro tomato!