Can I cook like ... James Bond?

The Guardian - Feast - - News - Stephen Bush

The first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, came out in 1953. At the time, ra­tioning had an­other year yet to run in the United King­dom, by which time Ian Flem­ing’s sec­ond book, Live and Let Die, was al­ready on shelves.

That scarcity is one rea­son the lit­er­ary Bond is such a big eater. His pre­ferred break­fast is ba­con and scram­bled eggs, so I kick off my morn­ing with a serv­ing of both. I have long been of the opin­ion that eggs are an in­gre­di­ent, not a food, and my scram­bled eggs do not con­vince me oth­er­wise: for the full Bond ex­pe­ri­ence, I add milk, chives and but­ter, and my over­all im­pres­sion is that it’s not so much a break­fast, but the ru­ined mak­ings of a per­fectly good sauce.

I like ba­con, but I do not like it enough to will­ingly wipe down the hob and sur­round­ing area, and clean out the grill pan after cook­ing it. Yes, I can make a ba­con sand­wich at home – but I’ve de­cided noth­ing tastes as good as a grease-free hob feels.

Of course, for most early Bond read­ers, big hearty meals were few and far be­tween, and a lit­tle ex­tra wash­ing up was a price they’d have been more than will­ing to pay. That’s why food is the real star of those first nov­els. In Casino Royale, more time is spent de­scrib­ing Bond’s meals than how he looks.

But the prob­lem with recre­at­ing these dishes at home is that Flem­ing’s idea of a good meal was any two in­gre­di­ents that cost more than a few coupons in a ra­tion book: steak and pineap­ple, which is what I have to try next. Rather like Bond in Thun­der­ball, my “stom­ach crawled with the ants of fear” at the prospect.

Flem­ing never makes it clear if the pineap­ple should be cooked or not, so I cook a chunk and have a chunk raw, and let me tell you: it makes no dif­fer­ence. Ei­ther way, you are eat­ing two foods con­nected only by three things: they were hard to come by in 1953, Bond ate them both in a sin­gle meal, and they should never share the same plate.

I de­cide to drown my sor­rows in the only ap­pro­pri­ate way: a vodka mar­tini, shaken, not stirred. You don’t have to be chaf­ing un­der ra­tioning to en­joy that, at least.

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