Judges’ Report – 2013

This year’s field for the Sophie Coe Prize was relatively narrow, with 16 entries, but three papers stood out clearly.

The judges Commended David Beriss on “Red Beans and Rebuilding: an Iconic Dish, Memory and Culture In New Orleans”, which was a rich and wide-ranging ethnography, using food-as-symbol, drawn from an imaginative variety of sources, to explore the politics of regionality, nationality, locality, ethnicity and identity in the wake of a natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina.

They Highly Commended Paul Brewin’s “The Dutch Way; Dutch Recipes in English Cookery Books of the 17th and 18th Centuries.” This was an impressive piece that asks the question usually ignored in studies of European cuisine – what about the Dutch? Using a wide range of sources, the author shows how Dutch cuisine influenced that of England, with recipes and superb illustrations enhancing the text.

The prize was awarded to Barak Kushner with “Slurping Towards Modernity: The Birth of an Iconic Japanese National Dish.” This is a fascinating, well-researched history of the complex factors in the rise of ramen during Japan’s quest for modernisation, an emergence which was affected by dietary theories, a faster way of life, and Japan’s attitude to China and Chinese culture. Full of enthusiasm, and interest, using Japanese sources not otherwise available, this was our clear winner.