There's a lot of talk at this time of year about bull's balls. In case you're wondering, this name was given to a local variety of outdoor grown tomatoes: the 'huevo de toro' in Spanish.
In recent years, tomato euphoria has flooded the Costa del Sol as the huevo de toro became an upward trend. Unsurprisingly, authorities rush to pose for the cameras holding bull's balls and famous chefs say they cut them in a special way to keep their near-perfect taste and texture.
Celebrities are keen to get hold of these tomatoes at any price. For example, last year, the renowned flamenco dancer Sara Baras bought bull's balls for 3,700 euros at the charity tomato auction in Coin.
As for ordinary locals, they seize every chance they can get to boast about this 'home grown' product by saying: "Este tomate no sabe a tomate" (This tomato does not taste like tomato), implying that only a bull's ball has the perfect flavour.
However, not everyone here knows how a real bull's ball tomato tastes and looks, and many can't distinguish this prominent variety from others that are also grown in the Guadalhorce valley.
Most of the Malaga-grown tomatoes are sold in fruit shops on the Costa del Sol. From my personal experience, when I ask for just huevo de toro, I usually receive something big, pinkish and fleshy, but each time apparently different. No, it doesn't mean that we are being cheated, most likely that the sellers are not aware either. And so some shops are inadvertently introducing us to the extended Malaga tomato 'family', which includes a Yellow King (Rey Amarillo) and a Crimean Black (Negro de Crimea), as well as around another forty sub-varieties.
Nevertheless, last week, I decided to find out the truth and clarify the difference between a bull's ball and... just bull.
In order to satisfy my curiosity, the Coín farmer who sells fruit and vegetables in Arroyo de la Miel found just five genuine bull's balls in a box full of what seemed to be 'all the same' tomatoes. He even explained that the huevo de toro tomatoes can be recognised for their resemblance to the intimate parts of a bull. My attempts to choose similar tomatoes in other boxes were not successful because in the end, instead of bull's balls, I was picking up bull's hearts. As I was told, "corazón de toro" (oxheart) is almost the same but different, so another (sub)variety.
So, I understood, to be more professional in your knowledge of Malaga tomatoes, you should either go to a cattle shed to get an idea of the shape of a bull's testicles, or take the opportunity this Saturday and Sunday (15-16 August) to go to the Mercado Sabor a Málaga Tomate Huevo de Toro 2020.
The bull's ball tomato market will be held in the tomato capital of the province, Coín. For the last few years the town has invited locals and foreigners to its annual traditional fruit and vegetable auction and contest for the best huevo de toro tomato. For the first time, the tomato event will take place in Mercado Agroalimentario del Guadalhorce on La Trocha industrial estate in order to maintain the strictest safety and hygiene standards.
The money raised from the auction, to be held on Saturday at 1.30pm, will be donated to the Red Cross. The event, which includes cooking demonstrations by top chefs, can also be watched live via YouTube and Zoom.