Eating Like James Bond
This is an entry in the occasional series of Timeless & Timely called Classic Style. Check your settings here.
I’ve been fascinated with James Bond since the age of nine, when my parents took me to see my very first James Bond film in the theater.
Even though it was Moonraker, I was hooked. I remember having the privilege of staying up late to watch ABC’s Sunday Night Movie, whether it was On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Goldfinger, or From Russia with Love.
These were the days before VCRs and DVD players.
But from those early impressionable years, I realized that the style of James Bond was unique. His wonderful gadgets, witticisms, and impeccable attire were all something to admire and aspire to.
And of course the martinis.
The drink first appeared in his Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, the first James Bond book, published in 1953, and the cocktail is named for the fictional double agent Vesper Lynd.
When Bond orders the Vesper, he provides strict instructions to the bartender. So, those instructions should be followed by any who make it:
“Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”
Dining With Bond
For my money, the food of James Bond is more interesting. Although he was a civil servant, he must have been paid well, as he frequently dined at upscale locations such as Sardi’s (in Diamonds Are Forever), The Ritz (Icebreaker), and M’s private club Blades (You Only Live Twice, Moonraker, The Man with the Golden Gun).
Since this is Classic Style, allow me a quick sidebar about Blades.
It was modeled after clubs in the St. James section of London, an amalgam of Boodle’s, White’s, Brooks’s, and the Portland Club, and had sleeping rooms as well as dining facilities.
M often enjoys lunch at Blades: a simple grilled Dover sole with Stilton cheese. And they keep a special off-menu cheap red wine available to him that he calls “The Infuriator,” as he drinks it when he’s in a bad mood.
Incidentally, if you’d like to read more about club life, here’s a piece from Timeless & Timely:
The Best Bond Meal
There are a number of meals mentioned throughout the novels, and photographer Henry Hargreaves, in collaboration with food stylist Charlotte Omnes, created Dying to Eat, a series of images of dishes mentioned in the stories.
For my money, the prototypical James Bond meal is scrambled eggs. He orders them for breakfast from room service, and consumes them any time day or night, accompanied by champagne, vodka and tonic, or his classic Vesper.
And it is part of his standing order when he’s at home:
Two large cups of “very strong coffee, from De Bry in New Oxford Street,” brewed in a Chemex coffee maker, with three eggs, lightly scrambled, with bacon, and half a pint of orange juice.
There is also whole wheat toast, Jersey butter and a choice of Tiptree ‘Little Scarlet’ strawberry jam, Cooper’s Vintage Oxford marmalade and Heather Honey from Fortnum and Mason, served on blue Minton china.
Breakfast is prepared by May, his Scottish housekeeper, whose friend supplies the speckled brown eggs from French Marans hens.
If you’re so inclined, you can get the recipe from The James Bond Dossier or watch my favorite way to make scrambled eggs.
We should all dine in such style.
You made me hungry, very hungry. And, oddly, I just heard those words punctuated with classic Bond music, one chord, then two.
Another Bond fan here. Also from an early age. My late father, an impeccably-dressed Londoner, loved spy novels, murder mysteries, detective novels, et al. You would have gotten on famously with him. He would have been chuffed to know I ended up working at the Los Alamos National Laboratories on classified technology for a time.