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Alan Eaton Davidson (30 March 1924 – 2 December 2003) was a British diplomat and historian best known for his writing and editing on food and gastronomy. He was the author of the 900-page, encyclopedic The Oxford Companion to Food (1999, second edition 2006). The son of a Scottish tax inspector, Davidson was born in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. His family travelled around the UK because of his father's job, but they eventually settled in Leeds, where Davidson attended Leeds Grammar School. Davidson studied classical languages at Queen's College, Oxford. During World War II, he served in the Royal Navy as an officer in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. In 1948, Davidson joined the Foreign Office and served in diplomatic posts in Washington, Tunis, Brussels, Cairo, the Hague; from 1973 to 1975, he was ambassador to Laos. While living in Tunis, his wife asked him to look for a cookbook on fish because she did not recognize any of the local varieties. Not being able to find one he wrote one himself together with the Italian ichthyologist Giorgio Bini, the world's greatest living authority on seafish in the Mediterranean at this time, who happened to be visiting.