Don’t play with your food; fight with it!
Oranges, tomatoes, flour or meringue, each city has its favourite but we like them all. Enjoy the best international cuisine in a very unconventional way through the best food fights in the whole world (well, they’re mostly in Spain – they seem to like their food served in combat).
1. Flour power, Spain
On December 28 the town of Ibi in Alicante hosts the epic battle of Els Enfarinats (literally, ‘the coated with flour ones’). This party, which is over 200 years old, sees two rival sides battle for local power by pelting each other with eggs and flour and firing gunpowder and firecrackers in what is a very messy but extremely fun conflict. For one day only, the Enfarinats seize power in a ‘coup’, impose their own mad laws and fight the opposition until everybody is completely ‘battered’.
2. Oranges are the only fruit, Italy
Italians take their food fights seriously. Ivrea near Turin hosts a huge open-air fight in which oranges are the weapon of choice. If you enter the fray, make sure you wear clothes that protect you from the impact of oranges or you’ll return battered and bruised. The Battle of the Oranges is held during the town’s carnival in February, the party commemorates the popular uprising against the tyrant Raineri di Biandrate, who established the droit du Seigneur (which basically meant that he could sleep with any bride he chose on her wedding night!). Participants are divided in two sides: one on a cart parading around the city, to represent the Emperor’s men, and the others on foot, representing the People… who have mastered the art of hurling oranges. They used to throw beans, but at the beginning of the 19th century they swapped them for oranges as they make more mess.
3. Sugar sugar, Spain
The sweet-toothed people of Vilanova i la Geltrú near Barcelona take to the streets to throw meringue at each other. This tradition dates back to the 1940s when Franco forbade Carnival celebrations. Well, the locals didn’t take it too well and started a tradition of demonstrating every Thursday before Lent, expressing their anger using sweets (the harder the better) as their weapons. They still do it today, on the Saturday, when the whole town becomes a battlefield.
4. Pie and mash-up, England
The village of Coxheath, Kent hosts the quintessentially English, slapstick-inspired, World Custard Pie Championship. Each May teams of five throw pies at each other and you get points according to which part of your opponent, with bonus points for your throwing technique.
5. The grapes of wrath, Spain
With its rich oenological culture, Spain hosts several fights that usually kick off with the throwing of a few grapes and end up with everyone saturated in wine. In La Batella del Vino in Haro, held on June 29, all the participants, clad in white with a red kerchief around their neck, douse each other in wine until their clothes are dyed deep purple. At La Raimà in La Pobla del Duc in Valencia (and Binissalem in Majorca) the masses pelt each other with over 90 tons of garnacha grapes to celebrate the end of the harvest and, at the same time, get rid of the surplus. How practical.
6. Get fruity, USA
Don’t like eating fruitcake? Then throw it. At the The Great Fruitcake Toss in Manitou Springs, Colorado, competition is tough. There are several categories in the cake-throwing contest. Cakes can be tossed with catapults, giant slingshots and all sorts of gadgets. You might not get that dirty, but fun is guaranteed.
7. Get (tomato) sauc(e)y, Spain
We really couldn’t miss out the famous La Tomatina in the Valencian town of Buñol. The mother of all festivals in which food becomes leisure attracts over 40.000 participants from all over the world. What started out in 1945 as the protest of a group of local youngsters because they were not allowed to take part in a parade has become a giant battle that sees more than 125.000 kilos of tomatoes thrown, squashed and splashed, turning everything into a red mess. If you go to La Tomatina – held on the last Wednesday of August – you will never be able to look at a tomato in the same way again.