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Petits Propos Culinaires

of £1000
awarded annually for an essay in food history
This Prize, the current value of which is £1000, was set up in 1994 to commemorate the late Sophie Coe, a distinguished food historian whose published works include two major books (America's First Cuisines, 1994, The True History of Chocolate, 1996) and numerous essays, of which many were first published in the food history journal PPC or the Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food History.
The Prize was instituted by her husband, Professor Michael Coe, who provided a capital sum designed to generate £1000 or more annually.  The Sophie Coe memorial Fund is a registered charity in the UK.
Anyone can enter an essay or article on any aspect of food history.  It does not matter whether it has previously been published or not, although in the former case publication should have been in the 12 months preceding the annual deadline (usually in June or July) for submission of entries.  An entry must be submitted in English although it may have originally been in another language.   Length is likely to be between 2000 and 10,000 words.  A paper on eligibility is available (and will gladly be mailed, faxed or e-mailed to anyone interested) which explains in more detail the conditions which entries must satisfy and how to submit entries.
The Prize has been, since its inception, associated with the Oxford Symposia on Food History, of which Sophie Coe was a regular, enthusiastic and much loved participant.  The annual awards are currently made at these Symposia.   But the Prize is open to all, whether or not they have attended any of the Symposia or had anything to do with PPC.
The value of the Prize is currently fixed at £1000.   It has proved possible on several occasions to make Additional Awards, typically to a value of another £300.  A full list of the prize-winners and the subjects of their papers is appended below.
All enquiries to:
e-mail (temporarily):


List of Prize-Winners and Subjects of their Papers 1995-1999
1995 (first year)

In this inaugural year, exceptionally the Prize was divided between two entrants:

REGINA SEXTON, for 'I'd Ate It Like Chocolate': The Disappearing Offal Food Traditions of Cork City

OVE FOSSĊ, for A Whale of a Dish: Whalemeat as Food


The Prize was awarded to ANDREW DALBY for an essay on Alexander's Culinary Legacy.

Additional Awards were made to:

Barbara Santich (£250) for The Rise and Demise of the Kangaroo Steamer; and
Sharon Hudgins (books to the value of £125) for her account of Culinary Research among the Buryats

The Prize was awarded to PETER BREARS (£250) for his essay Transparent Pleasures - the Story of the Jelly.

Additional Awards were made to:

Ivan Day (£150 of books) for Approaches to the Archaeology of Food; and
Darra Goldstein for Is Hay Only for Horses? (this last being a Russian topic).

The Prize was awarded to RACHEL LAUDAN for A Kind of Chemistry (a study of the relationship between medical science and changes in cookery in 17th and 18th century France and England).

Additional Awards were made to:

P Marcoux (£300) for The Thickening Plot (a contrast between thickening techniques for sauces in 17th century France and England);
Chitrita Banerji (£100) for Sweet Offerings (Hinduism and food in Bengal);
E Jochnowitz (£100) for Feasting on the Future (about the New York World's Fair in 1939); and
Andrew Smith (£100) for From Garum to Ketchup
An Honourable Mention was made of the late Roy Shipperbottom for Elizabeth Raffald.
1999 The prize was awarded to GILLIAN RILEY for Gastronomy in the Still-Life  Paintings of Louis Meléndez

Additional awards were made to:

Daniel Block (£250) for Purity, Economy, and Social Welfare in the Progressive Era Pure Milk Movement
Chitrita Banerji (£150) for The Kindest Cut - How the Bengali discovered Chhana and its Delightful Offspring
Jules Rabin (£150) for Soup for Bread: Altering and Shrinking the Sparse Repasts of the Poor
Regina Sexton (books to the value of £100) for Porridges, Gruels and Breads: The Cereal Foodstuffs of Early Medieval Ireland
Alyson M Ryley (books to the value of £100) for The Prime of Miss Frank Buttolph: Notes towards a Menu History of New York City
Claudia Alarcon (books to the value of £100) for Tamales in Mesoamerica: Food for Gods and Mortals
Constance Hieatt and Brena Hosington (presentation copy of The Oxford Companion to Food) for From Espinee to Sambocade: Flowers in the Recipes of Medieval England