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Painting the town red

Painting the town red

Wow! What a scorcher it has been. Here in Littleport it’s felt like Andalucia – we’ve had to take afternoon siestas just to keep our energy up for cooking all that tapas and paella.

We hope you’ve been to our cosy of corner of Cambridgeshire where the temperatures probably made you feel like you were actually in Spain. Habis’s food, though, remains fresh and seasonal as ever, and this time of year is great for one of the staple ingredients of our dishes – tomatoes.

The red fruit is a base for virtually everything we do, but in Spain they also have another use for it at this time of year…fighting with it at one of the biggest food fights in Spain, in the La Tomatina food festival.

The festival takes place annually in the Valencian town of Buñol, a town located in the east of Spain. As the name suggests, tomatoes feature heavily during this day-long celebration, as thousands take part in a mass tomato-fuelled food fight.

And the reason for painting the town red? Just for the fun of it! Revellers who attend La Tomatina don’t hold back as they join in the crowds swimming in, wading through and throwing tomatoes.

Approximately 9,000 people live in the town, however, up to 20,000 visit the region especially to take part in La Tomatina festivities.

The festival can trace its roots back to the mid-1940s, when the first public tomato food fight accidentally took place in the town. A parade was taking place in the town square on the last Wednesday of August in 1945, which featured individuals dressed as giants with big heads. A group of young people apparently caused the big head of one of the parade’s participant’s to fall off, a mishap which led the costumed individual to become irate.

The unfortunate individual began to cause havoc along the parade route, colliding with a market stall selling tomatoes. This series of events resulted in spectators picking up the tomatoes and throwing them at one another. The following year, a group of people in the town orchestrated an organised tomato fight, bringing their own tomatoes from home for the occasion. And the rest as they say, is history.

Interesting fact: Spanish dictator Francisco Franco banned the festival for having no religious significance.

The festival always takes place on the last Wednesday of August. Now, we won’t lob you with tomatoes when you come and see us at Habis but we will let you know more about the festival if you ask us. Now, put those tomato tins down.

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