The Pinoy Boodle Fight

Boodle fight is a popular way of eating in the Philippines. It came from the military practice of eating a meal together, where soldiers will stand around the table, in which banana-leaves are lined over the table, and food are served over banana leaves. However, the food is not served like a plate but arranged in a mound-like (predominantly the rice) fashion and other viands and vegetables are placed around that mound. Eaters stand shoulder to shoulder and eat by their bare hands or in the Filipino language, kamayan (kamay means hand).

Last July, our friend invite us for a boodle fight for her birthday. As this was in New Zealand, we try to make it authentic as possible and I will explain what types of food constitute the boodle fight. As you may have seen, there are no banana leaves, it is because it was the middle of winter and the leaves of my banana trees (yes I do have them here in NZ!) all withered, so we had aluminum foil instead. It does not make the experience any lesser so if you do not have banana leaves, still give it a go! In the next paragraph, I will explain the staples in this boodle fight, and what could have been in the "common" boodle fight.

We had fried rice. Filipino fried rice are usually cooked with just salt and garlic, with a little amount of oil. Though in the common boodle fight, it's mostly just plain steamed rice.

I do not know if this is common. What I do know that it is so expensive in the Philippines. While it is cheaper in New Zealand, it is still expensive, and that's the reason why we had an ordinary luncheon meat. It may look like Spam, but it is not.

We had salted egg. Some will include fried egg instead, or since there will be a lot of eggs needed, others prefer to have scrambled eggs instead. But since we had salted egg, it came with chopped tomatoes on the side (I just forgot to take a photo of it).

Except for the luncheon meat, there are four other types of meat on that table. First is longganisa - Filipino-style sausage which is a bit sweet in general. Though variations of this from other regions in the country may have a slightly different taste (longganisa from Vigan is more garlic-ky). Then we had pork tocino which is a Filipino-style sweet cured meat. We had beef tapa which are cured beef strips. This is a bit similar to the beef jerky you find in the supermarket. Lastly, we had the liempo or grilled pork belly. It is marinated in soy sauce, calamansi (Philippine lemon), salt, pepper, and garlic).

Commonly, there will be fried fish which is tilapia. But in our case as it is not available in New Zealand, we settled for friend bangus (milkfish). On top of the rice are shrimps sauteed in garlic and butter. We also had fried tuyo (dried fish).

Also not in the photo is tortang talong, which is eggplant omelette (aubergine). For drinks, a part of Filipino culture is softdrinks (mostly Coca Cola) or if you want to be hardcore Filipino, you can make gulaman at sago (jelly drink with tapioca).

Some culture, especially Westerners may find eating uncomfortable in this situation, not only that all of you are eating with bare hands but also the fact that you are like eating together in a ONE BIG PLATE. Some food may have certain smells that won't be a no-no for other cultures like the dried fish and the salted egg. However, most Filipinos do not mind those, it is the spirit of enjoying the food and being together that makes it both sumptuous and a rewarding experience.

Thank you and I hope you learn something about Filipino food and culture.

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