So a little something interesting I’ve learned about Spain… they like to throw food! What exactly led to this culinary conduct? This lifestyle of left-overs? Was it pent up aggression? Lack of table manners? Sincere enjoyment of being covered in goo? Whatever the reason, I think we can all agree: they sure know how to throw a (very weird) party in Spain.
You obviously know about La Tomatina—if not, hellooo? What in the world are you doing and how did you get here?—but did you know that Spain has a calendar full of other just-as-outlandish food fight festivals? I’m sure there’s a rational explanation for this.
LA MERENGADA // THE MERINGUE FIGHT
Just about an hour’s drive from Barcelona is the town of Vilanova i la Geltrú. The town’s 6-day festival of the same name takes place in the spring, traditionally ending on Ash Wednesday, and has done so for over 250 years. On each of these six days the town’s residents celebrate different events ranging from parades and sporting events, to a fancy ball known as—why, just why—Dancing Thugs, to an event where a naked man, doused with honey and covered in feathers, runs through the town. YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP.
OK, I’ve deviated, but can you blame me?
On the second night of this festival the event known as “La Merengada” takes place. Everyone in town gathers to throw meringue and cream at each other making this quite the—dare I say it—bitter batter battle.
LA RAIMA // GRAPE THROWING FESTIVAL
The youngest, and seemingly least bizarre, of all of Spain’s food fight festivals is La Raima, the grape throwing festival of La Pobla del Duc in Valencia, Spain. This food fight takes place annually in the town’s main square on the last Friday in August and aims to promote the area’s wine-producing tradition. What began in the 1930s as joyous farmers celebrating the end of the grape harvest now incorporates between 40 and 50 tonnes of local Spanish Garnacha Tintorera grapes being hurled at one another in a whirlwind of purple pandemonium.
BATALLA DEL VINO // THE WINE BATTLE
Similar to La Raima but requiring significantly more commitment is the festival of Batalla Del Vino in Haro, Spain. The wine battle takes place on 29 June each year celebrating St. Peter’s Feast Day but started as a land dispute in the 13th century. It involves a traditional mass then all-out mayhem with wine-filled water trucks, wine water guns, buckets of wine, and wine-drinking contests, just how St. Peter would have wanted it.
Did I forget to mention this battle takes place atop a mountain? That you hike to? The town’s mayor, on horseback obviously, leads the procession through the town and up to the Cliffs of Bilibio. So, yes, you’ll definitely earn your claim of the 130,000 litres of red festival wine just don’t forget to keep your mouth open! ⇠ Advice that I never, ever give!
ELS ENFARINATS // GEEZ, WHAT A MESS
The most political of the bunch is the festival of Els Enfarinats in Ibi, Spain. Dating back over 200 years, Els Enfarinats (“the floured ones”) is a day-long mock battle taking place on 28 December outside the town hall as part of their annual Day of the Innocents celebrations.
A group of “els enfarinats” stage a mock coup, mock-take over the town, and mock-declare whatever ridiculous new laws they want. Anyone who doesn’t follow these new laws must pay a fine (which goes to charity—a real one, not a mock one, just to be clear). Another group, “la oposico”, try to restore order in the town. And so begins the battle of eggs and flour, fireworks, and—for some reason—fire extinguishers. For this battle, KEEP YOUR MOUTH CLOSED. ⇠ There, that’s better.