The only awards in the UK to exclusively recognise the achievements of food and drink writers, the André Simon Food & Drink Book Awards have announced their 2020 literary winners
Following their first ever virtual awards ceremony, hosted via Zoom, The André Simon Food & Drink Book Awards have revealed their 2020 winners. Joined by an international audience, from Australia to America, this year’s winners were toasted by the guests, courtesy of Liberty Wines.
The winning books were whittled down from an inspiring longlist and shortlist to just four unmissable reads.
The main Food and Drink awards provide a taste of other cultures through food and drink at a time when travel isn’t possible – while the recipients of this year’s John Avery Award and Special Commendation explore the environment and science.
The prestigious awards celebrate the best of contemporary food and drink writing and are now in their 42nd year. The judging panel was guided by this year’s independent assessors: Lisa Markwell, food editor of the Sunday Times for the food books and John Hoskins, MW, wine expert and restaurateur, for the drink books.
André Simon Food & Drink Book Awards 2020 winners are as follows:
Caroline Eden – Red Sands – Quadrille (Food Award)
Max Allen – Intoxicating: Ten Drinks that Shaped Australia – Thames & Hudson Australia (Drink Award)
Harold McGee – Nose Dive – John Murray (Special Commendation)
Mark Kurlansky – Salmon – Oneworld (John Avery Award)
Intoxicating: Ten Drinks that Shaped Australia won this year’s Drink Award. In search of answers, award-winning writer Max Allen takes us on a personal journey through Australia’s colourful and complex drinking history.
We taste the fermented sap of the Tasmanian cider gum, enjoyed by Indigenous people long before European invasion and help brew an iconic 1960s Australian lager. Allen also introduces many of the characters from Australia’s boozy history and offers a glimpse of how drinking culture might evolve in the future.
John Hoskins MW, remarked: “There has been an astonishing range of brilliant drinks books this year. What made the short-listed group stand out was their ability to break new ground, to give a really fresh interpretation of their subject.
And what made ‘Intoxicating’ the outstanding work in the group was Max Allen’s achievement in weaving the minor world of drinks into a major historical and cultural context. His is a book that anyone with an interest in humanity would enjoy; it is a drinks’ book that will stand the test of time.”
Caroline Eden has this year scooped the 2020 Food Award for Red Sands. Beginning on the shores of the Caspian Sea, in oil-rich Kazakhstan, Eden guides us into the kitchens of underground desert mosques, through the world’s largest walnut forests in Kyrgyzstan, to remote orchards in Tajikistan.
Lit up by emblematic recipes, Red Sands is full of human stories, forgotten histories and tales of adventure. According to Lisa Markwell: “In a year of vicarious travel and virtual feasts, Red Sands gave us the most sumptuous and delicious escape into other lands. Caroline Eden wears her 10 years of research lightly in this book, with its compelling exploration of the ‘stans’ through their food, where it intersects with politics, people, geography and history.”
The John Avery Award was awarded to Mark Kurlansky for Salmon. In this book, he demonstrates how salmon is a barometer for the health of our planet. Centuries of our greatest assaults on nature can be seen in their harrowing, yet awe-inspiring life cycle as salmon have been a vital resource, a dietary staple and an irresistible catch from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
As our understanding of man’s impact on the Earth becomes increasingly urgent, Kurlansky’s book has never been more relevant. Lisa Markwell said: “Kurlansky is a masterful storyteller and through this one fish, his cautionary tale reveals the folly of the human’s compulsion to control nature. But also, salmon recipes!”
Harold McGee’s Nose Dive won a Special Commendation. In this fascinating and revelatory guide, McGee explores the smells of everyday life, from cheeses and spices, to flowers and animals, to uncover exactly how these scents work and how better understanding them can transform your relationship with the world around you.
Drawing on a vast range of scientific research, Nose Dive blends history and science to create the definitive guide to sense of smell. Lisa Markwell said: “A book for the ages, which examines but also transcends food and drink through smell. Fascinatingly nerdy.”