Spanish use tomatoes to get saucy with strangers
August 29, 1996
Web posted at: 6:30 a.m. EDT
BUNOL, Spain (CNN) -- You say "tomato." They say "Cuidado!"
That's Spanish for "Look out!"
And that's good advice at "La Tomatina," an annual excuse to
pelt friends and strangers alike with red, ripe tomatoes.
Wednesday's event attracted about 20,000 people to this
village in eastern Spain, many of them from abroad. About 100
tons of tomatoes were trucked in for their pleasure.
"I never saw anyone, I never saw anything. You could just
feel the tomatoes flying at you and nothing else," said one
visitor, sitting waist-deep in raw tomato sauce.
A single firework shortly after midday signaled the start
of the fruit-throwing frenzy, which lasted an hour.
Some festival veterans were spotted wearing armor, including
a motorcycle helmet, a swimming cap with goggles and even a
bucket over the head.
Local historians say the tradition began in 1945 when
discontented residents spontaneously started pitching
tomatoes at the priest and mayor at the annual fiesta.
It's not exactly the running of the bulls, but fans of author
Ernest Hemingway can take solace in the fact that the flying
fruit satisfies at least one definition of "A Moveable
"Actually, I love tomatoes," a California woman said. "But
I'm going to take a break (from eating them) for a while."
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