There’s something temptingly hedonistic about food fights. They’re ridiculously wasteful, somewhat antisocial and a little bit dangerous – sounds like a recipe for a whole lot of fun. We’ve rounded up five of the world’s fiercest food fights to bring you a little bit closer to this anarchy in action. The question is, what will your weapon of choice be: Tomato, tart, flour, meringue or orange (ouch!)?
Photo: Tomato Festival of Spain
LA TOMATINA, SPAIN
La Tomatina is the biggest food fight in the world, maxing out the little Spanish village of Buñol with a 40,000-strong crowd every August. The origins of this fruity mess date back to an annual parade in 1945, when a street brawl quickly turned into a food fight as a participant turned to a nearby tomato stall for ammunition. The following year, the same crowd showed up with their own supply of tomatoes, just for the hell of it.
Today, the 150,000 over-ripe tomatoes that are pelted through the air of this one-hour shenanigan are typically not fit for consumption, so you don’t have to feel as guilty about the food waste. And, it’s not as dirty as it sounds either – due to tomatoes’ acidity, they’re actually quite cleansing for both the buildings and the participants. Both get a good hose down by the local fire services when the fight is over.
WORLD CUSTARD PIE CHAMPIONSHIPS, ENGLAND
Coxheath’s annual custard pie-throwing championships are as quaint as they come. Originally devised as a way to raise money for this pretty Kent village, they now take place every summer and attract visitors and participants from around the globe. Teams of four are pitted against each other, with points scored depending on where the pie lands; it’s a full six points for a pie in the face. What goes into the competitions many pies is a well-guarded secret, but whatever it is, they create a satisfying splat when hurled well.
‘CLEAN MONDAY’ FLOUR WAR, GREECE
Galaxidi’s ‘Clean Monday’ Flour War marks the end of carnival season and the start of Greek orthodox lent. It has the most apocalyptic ambience of the bunch – boiler suits and gas masks are the go-to attire and clouds of flour dust fill the air. It originated in 1801, when the residents defied the occupying Ottomans and celebrated carnival in secret, painting their face with fire ash to dance in the streets. Participants make hundreds of coloured flour bags to use as bombs and villagers cover their houses with plastic sheeting to protect them from the mess.
LA MERENGADA, SPAIN
It’s back to food-focused Spain for La Merengada – an annual meringue war that’s held in Vilanova i la Geltrú. The event is part of the port town’s six-day-long pre-lent celebrations and was originally created by a group of street performers who wanted to attract more attention to their act. Hurling sugar-based deserts at each other worked, and the tradition was born and grew. When the meringue runs out, participants turn to candy, which ends up blanketing the streets giving this festivity a particularly sticky end.
Photo: Alessio Avetta
BATTLE OF ORANGES, ITALY
The Battle of Oranges is a large local affair in Italy’s Ivrea, which takes place annually over the three days that lead up to Shrove Tuesday. The origins of this citrus struggle date back to the tale of an evil Marquis, who attempted to rape the miller’s daughter on her wedding night only to be decapitated by her sword. The people of Ivrea began to overthrow the Marquis’ tyrannical family and war broke out between them and Royal Napoleonic troops.
Today, nine squads take to the streets in battle dress to relive the revolt, with orange-throwers on foot and those who represent the Napoleonic troops in carts. Spectators are encouraged to wear bright red hats so that they’re distinguished from the battle, whilst squad-members don protective padding and helmets to reduce the chances of injury.