Nothing brings people together like food. Whether it's a Thanksgiving dinner with your family or sharing wine and cheese with a friend in the park, eating is generally a social affair (Credit: WikimediaCommons/Graham McLellan).
For some cultures, sometimes a single ingredient or dish is reason enough to join in celebration. Take barbecue, seafood, and agricultural festivals as a few common American examples. Some festivals stray from the beaten path of tradition, however, and make for some unique and unusual fetes.
Whether people are smearing tomatoes into the hair and faces of loved ones at La Tomatina or hurling sausages into the air at the World Black Pudding Throwing Championships, food festivals all over the world express cultural pride in some relatively surprising ways.
Really, who expected that you could actually join in a large scale roadkill cook-off?!
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We say the less run-of-the-mill a food festival is, the better. Check out our slideshow to see some of the best occasions and locations where you can let loose and celebrate food in unusual and surprising ways.
- Emily Kolars, The Daily Meal
Every year on June 29 in the heart of La Rioja, Spain, the Batalla del Vino takes place. What began as a medieval dispute over a mountain range between neighboring towns has evolved into a celebration with hundreds of Spaniards soaking each other by any means possible. Traditionally dressed in all white except for a red bandana, they proceed to pour gallons of the area’s famous red wine until everyone is stained purple and undoubtedly tipsy. Click here to see All of the World's Most Unusual Food Festivals Credit: WikimediaCommons/BigSus
Despite the name, there isn’t actually any pudding thrown in this contest… at least not as most Americans know it. The ancient rivalry between Yorkshire and Lancashire is played out annually at the World Black Pudding Throwing Championships by hurling black pudding — a type of sausage — at Yorkshire pudding, an English dish made from batter and usually served with roast meat and gravy. Because who doesn’t love trying to knock stuff down by hurling sausages? Credit: WikimediaCommons/Paul Anderson
The cheese-rolling festival is definitely one of the more unique food festivals around. Here's how it works: On top of an incredibly steep hill stand several large wheels of cheese. Competitors race to catch their wheel of cheese as it rolls down the hill with a one-second head start. The hill is so steep that the cheese can reach speeds of up to 70 miles per hour! Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Dave Farrance
Don’t expect to find any seafood here; some of you may have already guessed, but the Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival is actually a testicle festival. Cow testicles are considered a delicacy by many and Texans show their appreciation in a cook-off to see who can make the best "calf fries" aka mountain oysters. Credit: Flickr/Sklathill
In Italy, they throw oranges. In Spain, they throw tomatoes. On the last Wednesday of August, bring your gloves and goggles and get rid of any pent-up aggression by throwing tomatoes at complete strangers for an hour. The fight can’t begin until someone manages to climb a two-story-high greased pole and throw down the ham sitting at the top. After that, it's every person for themselves in the world’s biggest food fight. Credit: WikimediaCommons/Graham McLellan
Hawaiians love SPAM. In fact, more than 7 million cans of the pink meat are consumed in Hawaii every year. SPAM Jam brings together SPAM lovers and celebrates the "spiced ham" that became popular during the meat scarcity of WWII. If you haven’t tasted it yet, you might consider it —but be warned, it might not be what you expect. Credit: WikimediaCommons/Neil Motteram
Here is another food festival where the main goal isn’t actually eating. Night of the Radishes is celebrated every year on Dec. 23, and radishes are specially grown for the event and kept in the ground past harvest season so they develop a strange shape and become unusually large. The unusual sculptures that are created using the radishes make it worth a trip. Click here to see more of The World's Most Unusual Food Festivals Credit: Flickr/drewleavy
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