Have you ever experienced eating food using your bare hands (or as we in the Philippines like to call it, kamayan)? If yes, you might be interested in trying out a good old Filipino boodle fight! For those of you who don’t know, it’s a style of eating where clean banana leaves are laid out on a long table and then food is bunched up together on it. People stand shoulder to shoulder from one another, grabbing what they want to eat.
It originated from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), a military tradition that promotes camaraderie between soldiers regardless of rank. Much like in combat, you have to be quick and attack as the best parts will go to those with the fastest fingers. With clean hands, scoop yourself a fistful of food and collect it on your side of the leaf before. It’s a bit of a scramble as some hands extend to wherever an ample supply of food is found.
A typical Boodle Fight usually has large piles of rice bunched together along with local food specialties like liempo (grilled pork belly), eggplants, salted egg, seafoods such as tuyo (dried fish), tahong (mussels), shrimp, crab accompanied with tomato slices, indian mango and bagoong (shrimp paste) to balance out the oily dishes. However, there is no fixed list of what to include in a boodle fight. Some put pansit (a noodle dish), adobo (native marinated chicken) and much more, depending on the group’s preferences. It is indeed a unique dining experience, where groups of people can enjoy a sumptuous feast with a wide array of dishes.
For people who are so used to having utensils, this may be a fun experience for you to try out. It can be chaotic at times, but you may be surprised at how enjoyable using your hands can be, how full you can end up, and how close it can bring families and friends together.