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.
Bond sat by himself and ate a grilled sole, a large mixed salad with his own dressing laced with mustard, some Brie cheese and toast, and half a carafe of white Bordeaux. He had two cups of black coffee and was back in his office by three.
Bond looked at his watch. It was half past six. “Could I have a dry Martini? He said. “Made with Vodka. Large slice of lemon peel.”
“Well,” said M. “Caviar for me. Devilled kidney and a slice of your excellent bacon. Peas and new potatoes. Strawberries in kirsch. What about you, James?”
“I’ve got a mania for really good smoked salmon,” said Bond. Then he pointed down at the menu. “Lamb cutlets. The same vegetables as you since it’s May. Asparagus with Béarnaise sauce sounds wonderful. And perhaps a slice of pineapple.”
“Ah, Grimley, some vodka, please.” He turned to Bond. “Not the stuff you had in your cocktail. This is the real pre-war Wolfschmidt from Riga. Like some with your smoked salmon?
“Very much,” said Bond.
“As a matter of fact, for various reasons I believe I would like to drink champagne this evening. Perhaps I could leave it to Grimley.”
A waitress appeared and put racks of fresh toast on the table and a silver dish of Jersey butter.
When M poured him three fingers from the frosted carafe Bond took a pinch of black pepper and dropped it on the surface of the vodka. The pepper slowly settled to the bottom of the glass leaving a few grains on the surface which Bond dabbed up with the tip of a finger. Then he tossed the cold liquor well to the back of his throat and put his glass, with the dregs of the pepper at the bottom, back on the table.
Bond helped himself to another slice of smoked salmon from the silver dish beside him. It had the delicate glutinous texture achieved only by Highland curers—very different from the dessicated products of Scandinavia. He rolled a wafer-thin slice of brown bread-and-butter into a cylinder and contemplated it thoughtfully.
“Benzedrine,” he said.
He stirred the champagne with a scrap of toast so that the white powder whirled among the bubbles. Then he drank the mixture down with one long swallow. “It doesn’t taste,” said Bond, “and the champagne is quite excellent.”
After the asparagus, Bond had little appetite for the thin slivers of pineapple. He tipped the last of the ice-cold champagne into his glass. He felt wonderful. The effects of the benzedrine and champagne had more than offset the splendour of the food.
Then he took the thin cheroot from between his teeth, laid it on the burnished copper ashtray beside him and reached for his coffee. It was very black and strong. He emptied the cup and picked up the balloon glass with its fat measure of pale brandy.
“Anyone care for a drink?” asked M as he cut the cards to Drax for the third rubber. “James. A little more champagne. The second bottle always tastes better.”
“I’d like that very much,” said Bond.
Bond suddenly realized he was £1500 down. He drank another glass of champagne.
His headache was still sitting over his right eye as if it had been nailed there. He opened one of the drawers and took out a bottle of Phensic. He considered asking his secretary for a glass of water, but he disliked being cosseted. He crunched two tablets between his teeth and swallowed down the harsh powder.
“Evening,” said Bond. “Large whisky and soda, please.”
Krebs came up with a silver tray with four full glasses and a frosted shaker. The Martini was excellent and Bond said so.
In Dover, Bond pulled up at the Café Royal, a modest little restaurant with a modest kitchen but capable, as he knew of old, of turning out excellent fish and egg dishes. The Italian-Swiss mother and son who ran it welcomed him as an old friend and he asked for a plate of scrambled eggs and bacon and plenty of coffee to be ready in half an hour.
They sat with their backs to a rock and Bond lit a first delicious cigarette, drinking the smoke deeply through his nostrils.
A hot bath and an hour’s rest at the accommodating Granville had been followed by two stiff brandies-and-sodas for Gala and three for Bond followed by delicious fried soles and Welsh rarebits and coffee.
The butler, erect and unperturbed by the apparition of Krebs and Walter in his pantry, brought in the coffee. Bond took some and sipped it.
It was 7.45 and his second Vodka dry Martini with a large slice of lemon peel had just been brought to him by Baker, the head waiter.
Without noticing what he was eating Bond wolfed down some food and left the restaurant at 8.45.
He put on his clothes and went back to Drax’s desk which he searched methodically. It yielded only one prize, the “office bottle,” a half-full bottle of Haig and Haig.
Bond looked at the bottle and poured himself three quarters of a toothglass and drank it straight down in two gulps. Then he gingerly lit a blessed cigarette and sat on the edge of the desk and felt the liquor burn down through his stomach into his legs.
Previous installments of this series may be found here.