What is a Boodle Fight?

Boodle Fight 2

If you are a foodie and love to eat at restaurants like Pizza Hut, Burger King or Jollibee, then today I’m going to tell you about a food eating competition. The name of the competition is Boodle Fight. So in this blog I’m going to explain about what is boodle fight, what you can expect in it, foods that are served there and many other things. So, let’s check it out.

So what is a Boodle Fight?

Recently this Kamayan (bear hand eating) style culinary experience called Boodle Fight is gaining popularity not just in Philippines but as well as overseas like in New York, UAE and even here in New Zealand.  This Filipino tradition of eating originated from the Philippine military where a big pile of food are served in the middle of a really long table in a mess hall where every hungry soldier eats with their hands symbolizing of camaraderie, brotherhood and equality in the military.  The “fight” in the name refers to the act of grabbing and eating as much as the soldier can before others grab them, otherwise you won’t have any.  Remember this is served to very hungry men so if you’re slow you will definitely run out of food.

Boodle Fight close up of Food Spread on the table

What to expect?

In a Boodle Fight usually food are served on top of a table lined with banana leaves.  Rice is placed in the middle and viands are either served on top or on the sides of the rice. Water jugs are also placed on the side used for washing your hands just before the “fight” happens. During a Boodle Fight no utensils are used.  It is expected that you eat with bare hands called kamayan, so this is definitely not a fine dining experience.   Trust me it’s way much more exciting to do this! Rather than those ones that have multiple sets of cutleries and glassware in front of you, this is more fun.

Boodle Fight Close Up shot of Food Spread

What dishes are served on a Boodle Fight?

As for the dishes there are no set rules in what to add, but the most popular ones are the dry dishes since it is consumed kamayan style.  Dishes like fried dried fish like tuyo, danggit, and pusit are quite common.  Breakfast meats are also popular like tocino, longaniza and tapa but the favourite ones are the charcoal grilled meats like fish, chicken and pork.   Fruits are also served as a balancer to the salty and oily viands.  Fruits such as pineapples, mangoes and papaya are very common.  There are also some vegetable salads like itlog na maaalat, talong, okra, atchara to name some.  But that does not stop there.  Some also add deep fried items like lumpia, fried fish, fried chicken then to top it all up, rice and noodles are also served as a carbohydrate source.

Some people add saucy dishes just to add some moisture to the mostly dry viands.  Hence you will see palayoks on the sides filled with Filipino favourites such as sinigang, bulalo, tinola, kare kare and similar saucy dishes.  By doing this expect it to be messier!

Boodle Fight Food Spread, Kamayan Style

Looks a lot?  Yes because there is a lot of food items in one table.  Now if you are ready to do a Boodle Fight, make sure everyone is hungry.  Try serving it right after swimming, tramping, etc., that way you will experience the real “fight”.   You will notice everyone will be very busy eating they don’t bother talking to each other.  If you are a slow eater then good luck to you.

Will you ever try this? What are your thoughts on this Filipino tradition? Kamayan na!


41 Responses

  1. What a fun meal! I’d love to do this.

  2. Kristy says:

    I feel like our breakfast counter looks similar in the mornings! What a wild tradition! I’ve never seen anything like it. I can imagine with a group of hungry people, how fast this would go.

  3. This is a smiliar experience to when I set platters food out in front of my teenage boys for the whole family for dinner. They must think it is an army maneuver as they just pile it all in as fast and they can… LOL Thanks for introducing us to this tradition.

  4. I want in on this! Looks wonderful!

  5. mjskit says:

    Well this sounds like fun!

  6. Norbert says:

    What a stupid way of eating. Totally loss of cultivated eating. Its primitive, teaching children and young people to eat till they are fuller than full. At Philippines many people are overweight and sick.

    • Raymund says:

      Its not stupid but its more of a tradition, I guess people who call it stupid are those who does not have any respect with customs and tradition.

      Plus its fun to eat like this :)

    • Leny says:

      I feel sorry for you that you think it’s stupid, I guess you are one of those born with a silver spoon in their mouth. It is fun and good bonding ( family or friends) thing to do. Again I’m so sorry for you because you are a total IGNORANT!

      • Norbert says:

        Sorry, I am not ignorant but concerned about hygienic standards at Philippines. I am living at Philippines and am involved in a medical program to improve heproducts children and young adults. We made hygienic tests at boodle fights. The results are shocking. In an average British CR are less bacterias than in a boodle fight ulam about ten minutes after opening. I respect the social aspects and the tradition. I could see the fun people had. But also could see the risk for healt, especially by chicken products (Salmonella). We also could find pinworm eggs in many of the meals. Sorry, this is not a personal view and not phantasy of a silver spoon guy, it’s result of research work.

        • Bangku Say says:

          What an ignorant comment.

        • filipina says:

          still not passable to describe something wonderful as stupid, If you are worried about the children being overweight, then you are possibly not here in the Philippines, most kids here are actually UNDERweight and there are procedures before getting into a boodle fight and the first step is to wash your hands, you can even use gloves if you want to, PLUS this is only common if you eat it with your family or friends because it symbolizes camaraderie and the trust that we give each other

        • Skyler MacKay says:

          what are pinworms? do you have a PhD?

        • Hoz says:

          So in this study you participated how many people got sick? Had to go to hospital?

    • Bernice says:

      I do not know what kind of place you went to run tests for boodle fights and when was it sir. But boodle fight is not supposed to be unhygienic. We are going to eat the food so we make sure the foods are clean. And do not worry about us eating with bare hands because we wash our hands first with soap and water. It is not done very often, it is occasionally when we just feel like doing it or like when there are get togethers of families or friends but not all the time. The usual boodle fights are done at homes or at an event’s place so we prepare the foods ourselves though there are few restaurants who offers boodle fight servings but they serve clean foods too unless their restaurants will be shut if proved unhygienic. Maybe you are talking about the real military boodle fight? I am not sure about how militaries make/prepare their food during boodle fights but they do it once in a while too when they just feel like having fun or something.

      Boodle fights are just done by soldiers before but we learned to make this as a part of our tradition. The definitions above of how “boodle fights” is done is not how it is done today. We just put the rice in the big clean banana leaf and all the dishes/viand and we all eat together. We don’t actually grab and fight over the foods and stuff ourselves or eat like hungry soldiers. It is just a tradition of eating with group of people and enjoying the very simple, province/country like environment and vibes of it. We do not worry about someone might grab our food because all the food that you place in front of you are yours and no one would get them. And we don’t eat til we are fuller than full. In any case, I am guessing you went to a very poor community where they don’t experience to eat meals even 2-3 times a day. If that is the case then your statements could be true but they are just some number of people. Even a poor family who can afford to eat for at least 3 times of meals a day would not eat or prepare unclean foods.

    • Jipimbopoy says:

      Here’s the statistic of average population that make up rating of obese people. I took a few of the Alpha countries. Do your research before you make an inaccurate assumption.
      41.9% US
      27.8% UK
      21.6% France
      23.8% Spain
      19.9% Italy
      6.4% Philippines

      • Norbert says:

        New survey published March 2023.
        Manila — A recent survey by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (NRI) found that about 27 million Filipinos are considered overweight or obese. – klajoo.com – “Obesity is particularly prevalent in the Philippines, where 36.6 percent of individuals aged 20 years or older meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) body mass index (BMI) to be classified as overweight or to be considered obese”,
        36.6%, !!! in 2022/23. Your figures must be from 1960

  7. Ely says:

    I wish to correct Norbert. Fine dining in first class hotel aint the best culinary satisfaction; even the drug lords do that. In fact, it could even be personal for you might be eating next to a murderer. To say that you are using gold spoon also do not add a bit to the recipe.

    Boodle Fight which originated from the jungle among soldier has a great culture per se since they are the people that save you and me from those who might be eating in your banquet.
    We did boodle fight in my school in Marikina and the parents that ate with the teachers and their students really enjoyed it. Very personal, it’s not pleasurable, it’s happiness and we are a bunch of educated people. You are doing it not everyday but only once in a while.

  8. Norbert says:

    Sorry, I never told that eating in a 5 star restaurant is better. It’s same stupid. I have been at boodle fight at Philippines. Many overweight children and parents had fun. All what I can say is, that not all traditions are healthy and reasonable. I think its a big difference if there are hungry soldiers or people who every day have much to many calories. The next point is hygiene: 50 hands going from the mouth to the food and back. A good way to spread germs and viruses. I have seen people with running nose eating at that boodle fight. I respect traditions, but I also am thinking if some traditions are reasonable.

  9. Dowon says:

    Norbert sounds like the “Fun” guy at parties

  10. Papz says:

    Norbert your imagination shows how uneducated and misinformed of a person you are. Most “Boodle Fights” in the Philippines. now are done in a more civil manner not as what your hallucinations and fantasies are telling you. As the article says this event is organized & done to promote camaraderie and friendship among soldiers before and even now it’s being done with different organizations, schools and groups of people in a community. Nowadays, Boodle fight is not just an ordinary affair as what you think and hallucinate of since it requires more to organize such event. Promotion of culture, meeting new friends and social development is what it’s all about.

      • Norbert says:

        Sorry Raymund. I am living At Philippines and have been at many boodle fights. So I don’t think that I am uneducated – what ever this means for you. I also think that no one till now read my twxt , my concerns are about hygienic standards. But, sorry to say it, many attitudes at Philippines are “non educated” unhygienic. I have never seen a country in the world where it’s same dirty as at Philippines.

        • Papz says:

          Norbert you are clearly an example of uneducation and hallucination combined and evolved into a living thing. I feel sorry for you claiming how dirty a country is while you forgot to see how dirty are those things coming from your own mouth. You obviously need some psychological help claiming to live in a country which is dirty and unhygienic, doesn’t that make you one too?

    • Dude… You’re gonna die someday… Might as well have fun before you go out… I would SO like to try this; except I’m a kinda slow eater but I’d still involve myself in something FUN… Life is for the living… If you walk around scared that this will kill you, that will kill you… I imagine these people would be shocked at how some of us who were kids in the 70’s and 80’s lived; we played out in the streets until dark, some of us did tricks with bicycles on wooden ramps flying high into the air before landing; I used to surf AND skateboard living on the east coast… Imagine thrashing 10 and 15 foot high half pipes on a skateboard!!! Now THAT was dangerous…

      Wouldn’t have changed a thing… I’d SO do this in a heartbeat… Even if I thought it MIGHT kill me…

      People tell me stop drinking sodas and eating pizzas and hamburgers and crap.. Gonna kill me… SO I exercise, try to eat healthy, but I ALSO have pizzas, sodas and burgers every so often… ANYTHING in excess could probably kill you. You know what I tell people that have “drinking problems?” Don’t STOP drinking… Just cut back a little…

  11. Ronald Aradanas says:

    Nobert…name the things you insert in your mouth..and we judge if its dirty or not

  12. Chase says:

    Norbert.. first of all, why do you keep on repeating “you are living AT PHILIPPINES” what is that?? You’re educated right?? A lot of people wash their hands before eating + dont generalize all boodle fight restaurants because a lot of them follow sanitary regulations. People like you take all the fun and enjoyment out of life. And I bet you’re a Filipino right?? Taking down your own culture… Shame

  13. Albert says:

    Norbert, I was just wondering what your background is? I mean, are you Filipino? Or different nationality?
    You live IN the Philippines.. NOT “AT” the Philippines. You say it’s a dirty country… but what are you still doing there if you’re so worried about health & hygiene?

    I live in North America & the beautiful city I live in has a very high standard on health & hygiene when it comes to Restaurants/Eateries. You cannot operate them if you didn’t PASS the Health/Hygiene inspections & not get a “Green” Certificate.
    There’s a couple of Filipino restaurants that I know of that offer Boodle Fight type of eating here not only popular with Filipinos but with other nationalities as well.
    If you’re not a big fan of boodle fights there then don’t try it… & if you really think it’s a dirty country then why don’t you just pack your stuff & LEAVE.? Simple as that.

  14. Pete says:

    I have been to Manila and Cebu for work and the Filipinos I met will not do well in progressive countries. Very little regards to hygiene. I have been invited to these type of events where they dump a bunch of food and people go at it like animals. Bunch of dumbasses.

  15. Kap says:

    Putangina mo norbert to the highest degree! You are the stupid one. Gago! Just goes to show you dont know what you are talking about.

  16. Oz_Ninja says:

    Nothing better than a ‘Boodle Fight’ to boost the immune system!
    Take some risk and have some fun, Hygiene is a problem everywhere in the world, whether it is eastern or western. Philippines may have some issues, but no one has died from eating and participating from a ‘Boodle Fight’, maybe from laughter and alot of fun! :)

  17. Bernice says:

    Nah guys, what can we expect from Norbert if he is too much of a health freak? I mean a health care specialist and a biologist. I understand your point of passing the germs bacteria and all those stuff you are saying. I do not like that either that is why we usually eat with friends and families. But still, it is not like we share our food with each other. I don’t know about others but we have our own foods in front of us. I am a woman who had boodle fights many times in my life and I am still alive, never got diseases from it. If you do not like it then don’t but do not call our fun tradition a stupid way of eating like we eat like that every other day. K

  18. I have enjoyed reading your post first time.

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  20. Oliver says:

    Someone here, who keeps repeating he lives in the Philippines, claims of unhygienic practices done by Filipinos. First, he denigrates the boodle fight and goes on to obesity. Well and good, if what he pronounces is backed up by scientific studies/evidence. So, if he professes that he is “man of science”, why not come up with a way to make the boodle fight more “hygienic”? Instead of deprecating it. Like always, some people don’t want to be part of the solution. Complaining is what they enjoy doing. Expressing their disdain for things they do not agree with. Making oneself more superior is their way of communication.

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