No, Mr Bond, I expect you to dine

He insists on seasonal ingredients, is keen to sample the most exotic of local cuisines, and waxes lyrical about his breakfast. Charlotte McDonald-Gibson wonders if 007 was in fact an undercover foodie

With his edicts on the exact temperature to serve Dom Perignon, lengthy tracts on the finer points of eating caviar, and his cavalier attitude to gender equality, it's no surprise that one reviewer took umbrage with James Bond in 1958, dismissing Ian Fleming's creation as pure "sex, snobbery and sadism". The reviewer may have found an ally in Tiffany Case, the beautiful gem smuggler in Diamonds Are Forever, in whom Bond confides that his ideal woman can "make Sauce Béarnaise as well as love".

But as Britain gears up for a Bond bonanza this year with the 50th anniversary of Dr No hitting our screens and the release of the 23rd film in the franchise, perhaps it is time for re-evaluation: rather than being a snob exhibiting some of the worst traits of Britain's upper crust, was James Bond in fact the prototype foodie?

With his insistence on eating seasonal produce, a determination to sample the local cuisine in whatever far-flung part of the world he finds himself, and a distaste for food "which had certainly been in various deep-freezes for at least six months," 007 pre-empts many of the values espoused by today's globe-trotting, local produce-loving Middle England. To quote Commander Bond himself: "I take a ridiculous pleasure in what I eat and drink," he tells Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale (the book) over a sumptuous dinner of caviar and beef tournedos washed down with copious champagne. "It comes partly from being a bachelor, but mostly from a habit of taking a lot of trouble over details."

And with interest piqued this year, restaurants and bars are lining up to cash in on any links to the dapper British agent. The boutique New Forest hotel and restaurant, The Master Builders, is offering a James Bond menu, to tie in with the nearby Beaulieu Motor Museum's exhibition of cars from the films.

Inspired by Bond's love of luxury, diners can tuck into dishes such as Licence to Kill (oysters and a shot of vodka), Golden Eye (smoked salmon, a poached egg and hollandaise) and Diamonds Are Forever (sparkling champagne sorbet).

While the Master Builders menu offers playful dishes inspired by the names of the films, Dukes Bar in London's Mayfair has genuine 007 heritage: Fleming is rumoured to have dreamt up his infamous vodka martini in its exclusive surroundings. The barman at Dukes recently unveiled his own tribute, the Fleming 89 Martini, based on both the martini mix in the author's books and oils from Fleming's favourite cologne. For the traditionalists, general manager Debrah Dhugga assures customers the original remains on the menu. "In our view, a perfectly mixed gin or vodka martini is synonymous with Ian Fleming's James Bond character," she says.

Their martinis will, however, set you back around £15: like much of Bond's lifestyle, out of the reach of many readers or viewers. But in his book, For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond, Ben Macintyre argues that 007's relationship with food was not driven by a desire to show off. His creator was instead moved to give depressed post-war Londoners some escapism from their daily grind. "Bond's meals are bright explosions of high cuisine, specifically designed to tantalise and amaze in a Britain where bananas were considering mouth-wateringly exotic, milk came powdered, and practically everything tasted the same and of very little," Macintyre writes.

He uses the example of an avocado pear, now readily available to all at your local Tesco, but back then it was so mysterious and exotic that even Fleming didn't know what to do with it, and in two of the books has it served as a dessert.

But most of the time, Fleming demonstrates a prowess with the cuisines of the world which would have appeared unimaginably exotic in the drab Britain of the 1950s. In Jamaica in Live and Let Die, Bond feasts on the first black crabs of the season, "a little suckling pig, avocado pear salad, guavas and coconut cream". Breakfast in Turkey in From Russia with Love is "yoghurt, in a blue china bowl... deep yellow and with the consistency of thick cream. The green figs, ready peeled, were bursting with ripeness, and the Turkish coffee was jet black and with the burned taste that showed it had been freshly ground." In France, it's foie gras, cold langouste, and Lyon sausage. Japan? Kobe beef and blowfish sashimi.

Back in the UK, asparagus is only eaten in season, smoked salmon must be from the best Highland curers: Bond even stipulates which hens (French Maran) must lay the eggs his Scottish housekeeper serves for breakfast in his Chelsea flat. Indeed breakfast is "Bond's favourite meal of the day" and is frequently described in luscious detail. A particular favourite is scrambled eggs, which are, bizarrely, eaten at all hours of the day. Bond even gives readers his recipe in the short story, 007 in New York: three eggs, six ounces of butter, fines herbes, and served – naturally – "with pink champagne (Tattinger) and low music".

While food plays a crucial role in the books, it takes a back seat to his love of alcoholic beverages in the films. As David Leigh, publisher of The James Bond Dossier website ( and author of The Complete Guide to The Drinks of James Bond, explains: "Ordering an entire meal in detail doesn't make good cinema, while 'shaken, not stirred' sums it all up in three words."

While Leigh concedes that Bond – an old Etonian – does show snobbish tendencies in both the films and the books, he says there is also a celebration of the best, simple cuisine, which chimes with the tastes of today. "He orders ham sandwiches with plenty of mustard from a pub in England; a baguette with a foot of Toulouse sausage in France; sardines and a doner kebab in Istanbul; pasta with a Genovese sauce concocted of basil, garlic and fir cones (i.e. pesto) in Rome," Leigh says. "So perhaps he is a bit of a foodie after all."

And the last word should go to Fleming himself, who – in the book, On Her Majesty's Secret Service – also touched on the possible side-effects of 007's gluttonous ways: "James Bond was not a gourmet ... In England he lived on grilled soles, oeufs cocotte and cold roast beef with potato salad ... He had had the whole lip-smacking ritual of winemanship and foodmanship and, incidentally, he had had quite enough of the Bisodol that went with it!"

Bond's haunts

While on the road, James Bond often dines in rustic farmhouses or beachside seafood shacks. But he's not averse to going upmarket. Here are some haunts where you could play at being 007, but only if your expenses account matches his.

Scott's, 20 Mount Street, London, W1

While in London, Bond frequently dines at Blades, a fictional gentlemen's club. As that doesn't actually exist, you could instead try Scott's, where 007 takes one colleague for "dressed crab and a pint of Black Velvet" – Guinness and champagne.

Dukes, St James's Place, London, SW1

It was while propping up the bar at Dukes hotel that Fleming dreamed up the potent Vesper Martini mentioned in Casino Royale.

21 Club, 21 West 52nd Street, New York

It is over caviar, lamb chops, asparagus with mousseline sauce that Tiffany Case tells 007 in Diamonds are Forever that: "It'll take more than Crabmeat Ravigote to get me into bed".

The Orient Express dining car

In the film of From Russia With Love, 007 is alerted to the identity of a Soviet spy posing as a British agent when he orders red wine with fish.

sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
Life and Style
Out and about: for 'Glee' character Bert Hummel, having a gay son was a learning curve
lifeEven 'cool' parents need help parenting gay teens
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Life and Style
fashion'To start singing with Pharrell is not that bad, no?'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Investigo: Group Financial Controller

    £50000 - £55000 per annum: Investigo: A growing group of top end restaurants l...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Excellent opportunities are available for par...

    Investigo: IT Auditor

    £60000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits : Investigo: A global leading travel busi...

    Recruitment Genius: Chef De Partie x 2

    £16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This charming and contemporary ...

    Day In a Page

    In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

    Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

    Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
    The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

    The young are the new poor

    Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
    Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

    Greens on the march

    ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

    Through the stories of his accusers
    Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

    The Meaning of Mongol

    Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible