The Food of James Bond

The Food of James Bond

One of the big differences between the James Bond books and the films are that while 007 is hardly seen to eat in the film series – he is well known for drinking however – the books often feature exquisitely described meals that are a highlight of Ian Fleming’s writing.

However, Bond isn’t an out and out snob, and while he does enjoy good food served in fancy restaurants, his favourite meal by far is scrambled eggs on toast with bacon. This he can eat morning, noon and night and Fleming went as far as featuring a recipe for scrambled eggs in his short story, 007 in New York.

Bond also finds fine dining sometimes rather pretentious and Fleming claims that when in England he exists on a diet of grilled sole, oeufs cocotte and cold roast beef with potato salad; Bond himself claims to prefer the ordinary plain food of the country when abroad.

Bond’s favourite meal of the day is breakfast, which we know because Ian Fleming told us. It was also Fleming’s own favourite meal time – his view that we all yearned for simple, childish foods and breakfast provided exactly that.

While Bond sometimes does order scrambled eggs for breakfast in the books, his routine while in London is rather simpler; he drinks two cups of coffee from De Bry in New Oxford Street (sadly it no longer exists) brewed in a glass Chemex coffee maker while reading the Times.

He is then served an egg that has been boiled for exactly three and a third minutes by May, his elderly Scottish maid, which is served in a dark blue egg cup embellished with a gold ring round the top. The egg comes from French Marans hens and is supplied by a friend of May. Following the egg, he has toast and butter served with Tiptree’s Little Scarlet strawberry jam, Norwegian Heather Honey from Fortnum and Mason and Cooper’s Vintage Oxford marmalade – all is served on blue Minton china.

However, when abroad his breakfast can vary. In New York he phones room service is order orange juice, three lightly scrambled eggs with bacon, toast and marmalade along with a double espresso with cream, which hardly varies from his home breakfast. But while on assignment in Istanbul he orders a much different breakfast; yoghurt and green figs with Turkish coffee.

Where we do see evidence of James Bond loving the “plain food of the country” when he lunches on ham sandwiches with plenty of mustard (in an English pub) or bread and sausage (while tailing Goldfinger through France), he also eats very well; one of the most memorable descriptions of a meal occurs when he dines with M at his club, Blades.

After vodka from Riga, Bond orders Champagne to go with his asparagus and hollandaise sauce, lamb cutlets with buttered peas and new potatoes, and a slice of pineapple for dessert. This episode features in Moonraker, written shortly after rationing had ended in the UK and while it may not appear to be particularly exotic to modern readers, the books provided wish fulfilment for the reader of the day.