DC at Night

DC at Night

Thursday, August 9, 2012

La Tomatina

It began in the 1940s in the Spanish town of Brunol, where a band of young men engaged in a brawl grabbed tomatoes from a vegetable stand and hurled them at their opponents. Now, more than 60 years later, as many as 40,000 tourists flock to Brunol to participate in Tomatina, the world's largest food fight, which is held annually on the last Wednesday in August. And for one week, DC celebrity chef Jose Andres and his team are offering a less messy way to celebrate the tomato festival with a special menu featuring a variety of tomato-laden tapas at their Jaleo restaurants..

In Brunol, the signal for the tomato-tossing chaos begins with the firing of a single shot. In preparation for the food fight, trucks bring about 40 metric tons of tomatoes into the town's plaza.. Revelers grab those tomatoes, which must be crushed to reduce the chance of being injured, and the hurling, slipping, and sliding begins. Participants are urged to use gloves and goggles, but they aren't required.

The food fight lasts for exactly one hour. A second shot signals the end. The thousands of participants and the whole town square are colored red and rivers of tomato juice flow freely. Fire trucks hose down the street. Participants use hoses that locals provide to hose down their bodies.

Besides the economic benefits from the thousands of tourists, Brunol receives another annual advanatge from its food fight. After the cleaning, the village's cobblestone streets are pristine due to the acidity of the tomatoes.

At Jaleo, the more low key tribute to the Brunol celebration begins with the presentation of the special Tomatina menu. Next is the eating. Neat diners can escape with no evidence of the tomato feast on their clothes. For those who aren't as neat, there is always a stick of Tide to Go instant stain remover.

Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
So pretty: watermelon and tomato skewers
Since one of the 3 Jaleos in the D.C. area is just around the corner from our apartment complex, we had to check out the special Tomatina menu. I chose:
  • fried green tomatoes with Valdeon cheese
  • ajo blanco mousse with a tomato granitee
  • watermelon and tomato caviar skewers and
  • jumbo lump crabmeat with tomatoes, cauliflower, cucumbers, peppers, and brandy sauce.
To see the complete Tomatino menu, click here.

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