Judges’ Report – 2001

The twenty-one submissions received this year reflect an impressive and diverse range of topics from the perspectives of both history and geography. With topics that extend from Medieval times to the present and from such far-flung parts of the world as India, China, Siberia and Armenia as well as from Western European countries and America, entries are evidence of the vitality of culinary history being written today.

The judges decided that The Sophie Coe Prize be awarded to William and Yvonne Lockwood’s Continuity and Adaptation in Arab American Foodways. This essay examines the cuisine of four groups of Arab-Americans to find out how and to what extent they come to identify themselves as a single social group. By looking at foods in what the authors term the public sector – restaurants, grocers, bakeries, butchers and other food purveyors – and in the private sector of home kitchens, they conclude that changes occur more rapidly in the former rather than the latter. The Lockwood’s work on this important subject offers a methodology that can be applied to other groups in other places.

A second award goes to June di Schino’s The Pope, the Queen, and the Mystery Banquets. This is an examination of the baroque banquets offered to Queen Christina of Sweden in Italy, about which little was previously known. Di Schino refers to and quotes from a completely unknown manuscript, which she discovered in the Vatican archives, describing in detail the Queen’s reception and dinner in Castel Novo outside Rome on 21st November 1668. The author gives special attention to the role of sugar and the immense popularity of sugar sculpture in this period. Di Schino’s scholarship serves as a model for how a historic meal can be examined as a way to shed light on the time and place in which the meal occurred.

The Prize: William and Yvonne Lockwood, £1,000

Additional award: June di Schino, £450