Descriptions of food and drink can create unassailable hungers and unquenchable thirsts when the pen is in the hand of a master wordsmith such as Charles Dickens. The food he weaves into his novels also creates an aura of wealth and opulence or takes the reader into the very depths of poverty and the dark depravities of Victorian London.

He used food to expose insecurities too. Those who have ever cooked a goose will know how carefully Mrs Crachit in A Christmas Carol would have had to take the knife to the breast of that festive goose which was so triumphantly paraded to the table, to ensure that everyone had their fair share. Goose may look large, but there is far less flesh on them than a chicken or turkey.

That breathless pause as she slowly gazed along the carving knife on preparing to plunge it into the roasted flesh would have been one of apprehension — would there be enough for everyone, including Tiny Tim? There was, of course, thanks to the apple sauce, the sage and onion stuffing that oozed out as the knife was inserted, and the mashed potato, which ensured there was enough for the entire family, such that the young Cratchits were seeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows.

And the pudding — like a speckled cannonball, so hard and firm, and blazing with half of a half of a quarter of ignited brandy, which was proudly carried to the table by a flushed but proud Mrs Cratchit. What a pudding! And what a lot that scene conveyed. By also informing the reader that the pudding had been pulled from the copper, producing a smell of a washing day, the scene is set. The fact that nobody sitting round the table remarked that it was a small pudding for such a large family says even more.

Yes, Dickens was indeed a master when he wove food into his novels.

Food writing is now fashionable. It’s certainly fun attempting to spice the pages by stimulating the taste buds and using food to symbolise situations and emotions.

For those who enjoy the challenge of writing in this manner, a major new £7,500 short story competition has been launched by The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival in association with Oxford Gastronomica.

The Jeremy Mogford Prize for Food and Drink Writing 2013 will be awarded at next year’s festival to the best short story on the theme of food and drink.

Food and drink has, obviously, to be at the heart of the tale. The story could, for instance, be fiction or fact about a chance meeting over a drink, a life-changing conversation over dinner, or a relationship explored through food or drink. It could be crime or intrigue; in fact any subject you like as long as it involves food and/or drink in some way.

As the name of the competition suggests, it is sponsored by hotelier and restaurateur Jeremy Mogford, who brought Browns Restaurant to Oxford in 1976 and went on to establish Gee’s, The Old Parsonage, The Old Bank Hotel and the Quod Brasserie. His association with the Oxford Literary Festival goes way back, when the festival was in its infancy and sponsors were needed to help it flourish.

Jeremy knows what winning a competition such as this can mean to a budding writer. His son Thomas was offered a two-book deal with Bloomsbury after winning a short story competition in The Field magazine. His ingenious story-line centred on an unfaithful wife whose infidelity was detected when her husband discovered that her urine smelt foetid due to eating asparagus, which she had not consumed in his company. Thanks to that prize, Thomas’s first novel, Shadow of the Rock comes out in August.

As one of the judges for the fFood and drink prize, Jeremy says he will be looking for a story that leaves him wanting more as he turns the last page. Applicants are invited from anywhere in the world and can be published or as yet unpublished, The story should be up to 2,500 words and must be written in English. Entries should be submitted by email as a Word Document to the by October 1, 2012, which leaves you plenty of time to write and polish your story.

The winning entry will be announced at The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival in March 2013.

All entries submitted will remain the property of the entrant. However, the Oxford Literary Festival, Mogford Group and their subsidiaries/associates retain the right to publish the winning and highly commended entries without fee.

While this competition is open to writers all over the world, wouldn’t it be wonderful if the winner was based in Oxfordshire and, as a result of gaining the prize, went on to gain a publishing deal, as Thomas did?