Boodle fighting is serious business.
Similar many other traditions in filipino culture, this is a fun and light-hearted activity that takes place at many family reunions, and fiestas.
The Boodle Fight is a style of eating. As a Philippine Military Academy tradition, cadets would gather around a long table of foods arranged on top of banana leaves and eat together ‘kamayan’ or with your hands. This tradition is said to perpetuate oneness, and equality, as soldiers of different ranks would partake in one boodle fight. Haphazardly, a boodle fight is also every person for themselves as the food is ‘fought’ over until not a grain of rice remains!
So how does one survive a boodle fight? Having participated in three this past week, consider me your personal spirit guide on all things boodle fight related.
First things first, battle field preparation
The table arrangement is very important. The table must be long enough to accommodate an entire platoon of family and friends, but also must be wide enough to hold plenty of rice, ulam (main dish), soups, sauces, and fruits.
Once you are content with your table arrangement, all of the tables must be dressed with banana leaves. Don’t worry about not having enough to cover the table, there’s always a nearby banana tree with some leaves to spare if you’re running short.
Second, What’s a Boodle Fight Without Food?
Of course you MUST have food. Be sure to cook plenty of rice as this will run down the table in two thick lines. Have plenty of rice on reserve to replenish throughout the boodle.
Most of the boodle fight food is prepared on a grill over charcoal. The grill requires two Ates. While one person grills, the other fans the coals and the chefs because the Philippine summer is MAINIT-ON (the hottest). Of course not all of the ulams are prepared over the grill, a stew or two is usually on the table as well. Be sure to have plenty of ulam options, but also be wary of your table’s carrying capacity.
FINALLY, THE SET-UP
Each ‘section’ of the boodle fight table must have equal reachability to all the different types of ulam. This gets particularly tricky when you have to fit 6 different ulams, as well as sauces and fruits, all within the reachability margin. But don’t despair, it is possible. It may take a few rounds of rearranging, but it is possible to fit various ulams, soups, sauces, and fruits between the two rows of rice.
TIPS: BOODLE FIGHT ETIQUETTE
There are a few ‘do’s and don’ts’ that go along with boodle fighting.
First, do not start early.
The food may look delicious, but you must not start a second before the person in charge says so. Keep those hands ‘taas-on an kamay!’ (hands up high!)
Second, do not switch spots.
This is highly frowned upon (and why it’s so important that all the different ulams are equally reachable from every spot).
Third, when you’re finished clear out!
Move out the way for the next round of hungry fighters!
Finally, have fun and stuff your face!
No one leaves a boodle fight ‘gutom’ (hungry).
To my Filipino readers, post in the comments section any steps, tips, or tricks, I may have missed!