Booyah - Gastro Obscura
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Ladled out of massive pots at feasts and fundraisers, the Midwestern stew binds communities.

At fundraisers and church functions in the Upper Midwest, lucky attendees can buy bowls of booyah. While many might associate the word with an exclamatory catchphrase (popularized by the late sportscaster Stuart Scott), Midwestern booyah is a sensible mix-and-match stew of meat, tomatoes, and vegetables that can be made in massive quantities to feed hundreds.

The roots of booyah and its name go back to the region’s European settlers, though it’s uncertain exactly which group started the tradition. Some say booyah is based on a traditional Belgian dish of broth and rice, which Belgian Walloons brought with them to Wisconsin’s Green Bay. Others maintain that it was the Polish who engineered it. The name, on the other hand, may come from the French word for broth, bouillon. Its unique spelling, lore has it, originated when a non-French reporter in the early 20th century wrote down the word as he heard it.

But what everyone can agree on is that it’s delicious. Especially popular in the fall, booyah often takes 24 hours to prepare and cook, sometimes still over the traditional wood fire outdoors. Ladled out of massive pots at “booyah feasts,” the stew is both tasty and a community glue.

Need to Know

Churches, fire departments, and social groups often have booyah feasts in the fall. But several restaurants also serve the tasty stew.

Where to Try It
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Contributed by
Anne Ewbank Anne Ewbank
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