Alan Eaton Davidson

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Alan Davidson ( Erasmus Prize 2003)

Alan Eaton Davidson (March 30, 1924 - December 2, 2003 ) was a British diplomat and cultural historian specializing in food history . His most important work is the Oxford Companion to Food , which appeared in 1999.


Alan Davidson was born in Northern Ireland and studied Classical Languages at Oxford University . During the Second World War he was a soldier in the Royal Navy . In 1948 he began his diplomatic career in the Foreign Office and worked in Washington , Tunis , Brussels , Cairo and The Hague ; from 1973 to 1975 he was ambassador to Laos . In Washington he married Jane Macatee, the daughter of an American diplomat.


Out of private interest, he began at the end of the 1960s to deal with the art of cooking and the cultural history of various foods, initially mainly fish and seafood . His first book was published in Great Britain in 1972 under the title Mediterranean Seafood . Today it is considered a standard work on this subject and contains information on cultural history and biology as well as recipes. Other books on fish were Seafood Of South East Asia (1979) and North Atlantic Seafood (1979), for which he collected thousands of recipes from different countries. Davidson is also considered an expert in Lao cuisine .

In 1979 Davidson founded the English-language magazine Petits Propos Culinaires and the book publisher Prospect Books . He is also the founder of the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery , which takes place every year in Oxford .



  • Mediterranean seafood , 1972.
  • Fish and fish dishes of Laos , 1975. ISBN 0-907325-95-5 .
  • Seafood of South-east Asia , 1977. Revised ed. 2003. ISBN 1-903018-23-4 .
  • North Atlantic seafood , 1980.
  • Alan Davidson / Phia Sing (eds.): Traditional Recipes of Laos , 1981. Illustrated by Soun Vannithone. ISBN 0-907325-02-5 .
  • On fasting and feasting: a personal collection of favorite writings on food and eating , 1988.
  • Seafood: a connoisseur's guide and cookbook , 1989, ISBN 0-85533-752-4 (German: Fish and Seafood , 1991).
  • A kipper with my tea: selected food essays , 1990.
  • The Cook's room: a celebration of the heart of the home , 1991.
  • Fruit: a connoisseur's guide and cookbook , 1991, ISBN 0-85533-903-9 .
  • The Oxford Companion to Food , Oxford, 1999, ISBN 0-19-280681-5 .
  • Trifle with Helen Saberi, 2001, ISBN 1903018-19-6 .

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