US Embassy Manila Hosts a “Boodle Fight” … or Fine Dining Combat Without the Flatware

The US ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas hosted a “boodle fight” for the reporters of the Defense Press Corps at the U.S. Embassy’s Najeeb Saleeby Courtyard on March 21, 2013. According to the embassy’s online post, defense and security officials of the U.S. government, including Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines Deputy Commander David Cole (left), also joined the “boodle fight” which was patterned after the traditional Philippine military way of enjoying a humble feast piled on top of banana leaves.

Photo via US Embassy Manila

Ambassador Thomas (in a pink shirt) during the boodle fight.
Photo via US Embassy Manila

This seems to be the best explanation for a boodle fight, although it is posted under martial arts:

From my experience during my compulsory military training, a “boodle fight” is the Philippine Military jargon for a mess hall banquet where all the food are piled into one big tray in each table and every soldier, enlisted men and officer alike eat from that same tray with their hands as a symbol of camaraderie, brotherhood and equality in the Armed Forces. The “fight” part refers to the fact that it’s everyman for himself during these feasts, this means you grab and eat as much as you can before the food runs out or else go hungry because everyone else is gorging away.

Food typically is placed if not on a food tray then on banana leaves or old newspapers, you eat using your bare hands, so jugs of water are put on the side to wash hands before and after the eating combat.  Looks like they’re eating rice, noodles and some sort of meat and most of them appears to be enjoying themselves.  More photos here from the embassy’s boodle fight.