28 Jan Play With Your Food

Do you like to get creative with your food, or harbor a secret passion for a good food fight?

If you answered “yes” to any of those queries, or if you have just started flinging food about at the very suggestion, then you’ll love these quirky, messy, no-holds-barred food festivals from around the world.


Ivrea Carnival and Orange Battle, Italy, February/March

Prepare for a pummeling at this three-day food fight, held in the small northern Italian city of Ivrea in the days leading up to Fat Tuesday. Around 400 tons worth of over ripe oranges are brought in from southern Italy for the epic battle, which re-enacts a Middle Ages rebellion against the Holy Roman Emperor known as Barbarossa (Red Beard). Thousands of people in medieval costumes gather in teams, with the king’s guards pelting foot soldiers and other carriage teams from their horse-drawn carts.


Copper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake, UK, May

Yes it could just be the cheesiest festival in the world. Held atop steep Cooper’s Hill in the village of Brockworth near Gloucester, the event involves rolling an eight pound cheese wheel down the hill and racing down after it at death-defying speeds. The official event was cancelled in 2010 due to concerns around crowds and safety, but was quickly resurrected in an unofficial form. Last year, organizers replaced the Double Gloucester cheese wheel with a lightweight foam version, and a Colorado Springs estate agent and a Japanese contestant each won one of the four races. Join competitors at Brockworth pubs The Cross Hands or The Victoria, to discuss tactics before the race or relax with a pint afterwards.


La Tomatina Festival, Spain, August

Thousands of people from around the globe head to the small Valencian town of Buñol for ‘The World’s Biggest Food Fight’ on the fourth Wednesday in August. With up to 250,000 pounds of tomatoes thrown, you’ll get your quota of antioxidants in this high-spirited tomato massacre. Wear goggles to protect your eyes! La Tomatina has been running since World War II, and also features music, parades, dancing, fireworks and a paella cooking contest as part of its week-long festivities. Before 2013, between 40,000 and 50,000 visitors would infiltrate Buñol’s 9,000-strong population for the festival. But participant numbers are now capped at 20,000, so get in quick.


La Pourcailhade , France, August

Also known as La Fete du Cochon or Festival of the Pig, this porcine festival is held is a in the Pyrenees town of Trie-sur-Baïse, in south western France. Indulge in roast pork, watch pig races, join eating contests, or take part in the French Pig-Squealing Championships, where contestants mimic the different sounds that pigs make at various stages in their life.


So what’s it going to be? Tomatoes? Oranges? Hellish pigmen chasing cheese down a hill? Wait, I may have gotten a few of those fused… In any case, go ahead, play with your food! It just may become a treasured local tradition.

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