If you have ever been to the Philippines, then you might have experienced eating on a leaf. Yep, we use banana leaves as plates. Well, not all the time but we like to do it on special occasions and when we are on the beach or any rural province in the country.
For me, the best way to enjoy this rustic feast is on the beach. The sun, sand, and salty air scream boodle fight.
Boodle fight originated from the military. Soldiers would line up along both sides of a long table that has been prepared with food. Several banana leaves cover the entire stretch of the table. The rice is dumped on the middle creating a long sticky, grainy line. Then various viands are randomly dumped on it or along it. The men and women will then only use their hands (yes, no knife, fork, or spoon here) to eat.
This type of feast also showcases one Filipino trait that is known around the world—family values. You see, sharing of food this way shows the bond of the family. Because here in the Philippines, we like to share and love to eat. In a boodle fight you can get food from someone else’s plate or rather leaf.
Last December, I went on a trip along with other journalists to one of my favorite places in the Philippines: Coron, Palawan. The trip to the beautiful Dimakya Island was for work, for Manila Bulletin. Right? I love my job.
Dimakya Island is home to Club Paradise, a family leisure resort. This place is beautiful! Of course, I didn’t expect less of Coron, which has the most beautiful islands in the country. Proof? American travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler named Palawan the “Best Island in the World” for two consecutive years.
Apart from enjoying the beauty of this place, I also got to taste amazing dishes prepared by the resort. It’s kitchen is headed by executive chef Bruce Subia. A favorite item among the guests is the resort’s brick oven pizzas. Yep, pizza on an island! Most of the resort’s international guests are Europeans so pizza is a must.
But for me, the most memorable meals of the trip were the ones prepared on the beaches of uninhabited islands. The first was a dinner buffet of grilled goodies on Islang Walang Lang-aw (Island Without Trees). We helped ourselves to perfectly grilled pork belly, chicken, fish, prawns, and mussels and a choice of local ensaladas (salad), from eggplant to camote tops to green mangoes. Filipino ensaladas are usually made of one major vegetable ingredient (cooked or fresh) then tossed with tomato and onion slices then served with shrimp paste as dressing. Perfect with grilled meat and rice.
Then the best of all, a boodle fight lunch on Diatoy Island. On the island, we were greeted by the resort’s friendly staff and a table full of amazing food. There were whole grilled fish, huge crabs, lechon kawali (deep fried pork belly), prawns, mussels, eggplant torta (similar to frittata), on a bed of fried rice. We picked our seats, washed our hands using a bowl water, and dug in. The meal won’t be complete without the traditional dipping sauce—soy sauce with calamansi (lime-like citrus fruits the size of a big marbles), onions, and chili peppers. For dessert, fresh tropical fruits: bananas, mangoes, and pineapple.
Now, that is a meal.
Club Paradise Palawan: +632 719 6971 to 6974, www.clubparadisepalawan.com