In the interest of Culinary Vicariousness, we are exploring and presenting to you the Strictly Gustatory Adventures of world-renowned super-spy James Bond, as recorded in the novels of Commander Ian Fleming.
Live and Let Die
He went over to the sideboard and started mixing a Martini.
“Here’s luck,” and he lifted the cocktail Leiter had put into his hand.
“Soft-shell crabs with tartare sauce, flat beef Hamburgers, medium-rare, from the charcoal grill, french-fried potatoes, broccoli, mixed salad with thousand-island dressing, ice-cream with melted butterscotch and as good as a Liebfraumilch as you can get in America, OK?”
“Room Service, please,” said Bond. “Room Service? I’d like to order breakfast. Half a pint of orange juice, three eggs, lightly scrambled, with bacon, a double portion of café [lowercase in original] Espresso with cream. Toast. Marmalade. Got it?”
It was only when he had swallowed his last mouthful of coffee and had lit his first cigarette of the day that he suddenly became aware of the tiny noise in the room behind him.
He had a typical American meal at an eating house called “Gloryfried Ham-N-Eggs” (The Eggs We Serve Tomorrow Are Still in the Hens) on Lexington Avenue and then took a cab downtown to police headquarters, where he was due to meet Leiter and Dexter at 2.30.
Leiter ordered medium-dry Martinis with a slice of lemon peel. He stipulated House of Lords Gin and Martini Rossi. The American gin, a much higher proof than English gin, tasted harsh to Bond.
They ordered scotch-and-soda—Haig and Haig Pinchbottle.
Bond picked up the menu and leant back in the booth, studying the Special Fried Chicken Dinner at $3.75.
Ma Frazier’s was a cheerful contrast to the bitter streets. They had an excellent meal of Little Neck Clams and Fried Chicken Maryland with bacon and sweet corn.
They ordered scotch-and-soda and chicken sandwiches.
Bond sniffed. “Marihuana,” he commented.
He took a deep draught of his whisky.
He lit a cigarette and gratefully drew the smoke deep into his lungs.
He put a handful of wilted ice-cubes into a tall glass, poured in three inches of Haig and Haig and swilled the mixture round in the glass to cool and dilute it. Then he drank down the glass in one long swallow.”Breakfast, please,” said Bond. “Pineapple juice, double. Cornflakes and cream. Shirred eggs with bacon. Double portion of Café [uppercase in original] Espresso. Toast and marmalade.”
Bond ordered Old Fashioneds, and stipulated Old Grandad Bourbon, chicken sandwiches, and decaffeined Sanka coffee so that their sleep would not be spoilt.
He ordered dry Martinis and when the two little “personalized” bottles appeared with the glasses and the ice they seemed so inadequate that he at once ordered four more.
“Eyewash,” said Bond, and they finally ordered scrambled eggs and bacon and sausages, a salad, and some of the domestic Camembert that is one of the most welcome surprises on American menus.
“The scrambled eggs’ll be cooked with milk,” said Bond. “But one can’t eat boiled eggs in America. They look so disgusting without their shells, mixed up in a tea-cup the way they do them here. God knows where they learned the trick. From Germany, I suppose. And bad American coffee’s the worst in the world, even worse than in England. I suppose they can’t do much harm to the orange juice. After all, we are in Florida now.”
In a moment Leiter came back with a bottle of Haig and Haig and some ice.
He fetched some soda-water and they both took a long drink.
They had a stiff drink together and then went to the central dining-room, where the handful of other guests were just finishing their dinners.
What it came down to was tomato juice, boiled fish with a white sauce, a strip of frozen turkey with a dab of cranberry, and a wedge of lemon curd surmounted by a whorl of stiff cream substitute.
Bond didn’t wait. While he shaved and dressed he ordered some coffee and rolls and a cab. In just over ten minutes he had got them all and had scalded himself with the coffee.
They had made sandwiches from the well-stocked pantry and Bond now finished these and had a stiff drink.
Then he had the biggest steak, rare, with french fries, he had ever seen. It was a small grill called Pete’s, dark and friendly. He drank a quarter of a pint of Old Grandad with the steak and had two cups of very strong coffee. With all this under his belt he began to feel more sanguine.
He stopped at the Gulf Winds Bar and Snacks and ordered a double Old Grandad on the rocks.
He awoke at midday and walked down the road to a cafeteria where the short-order cook fixed him a delicious three-decker western sandwich and coffee.
After a cocktail and an early dinner they came in to Nassau and spent half an hour on the richest island in the world, the sandy patch where a thousand million pounds of frightened sterling lies buried beneath the Canasta tables and where bungalows surrounded by a thin scurf of screwpine and casuarina change hands at a fifty thousand pounds a piece.
Strangways poured a strong whisky-and-soda for both of them and gave a concise account of the whole of the Jamaica end of the case.
Paw-paw with a slice of green lime, a dish piled with red bananas, purple star-apples and tangerines, scrambled eggs and bacon, Blue Mountain coffee—the most delicious in the world—Jamaican marmalade, almost black, and guava jelly.
While Quarrel prepared one of the succulent meals of fish and eggs and vegetables that were to be their staple diet, Bond sat under the light and pored over the books that Strangways had borrowed from the Jamaica Institute, books on the tropical sea and its denizens by Beebe and Allyn and others, and on sub-marine hunting by Cousteau and Hass.
Bond looked at the whisky bottle, then he made up his mind and poured half a glass on top of three ice cubes. He took the box of benzedrine tablets out of his pocket and slipped a tablet between his teeth.
“I hope I’ve made it right,” she said. “Six to one sounds terribly strong. I’ve never had Vodka Martinis before.”
Before he left he had a Lucullian breakfast and a blessed first cigarette.
“He’s even found us some black crabs, the first of the season. Then he’s roasting a pitiful little suckling pig and making an avocado pear salad and we’re to finish up with guavas and coconut cream. And Commander Strangways has left a case of the best champagne in Jamaica.”
Previous installments of this series may be found here.