Sunday 25 February 2018

The origin of scrambled eggs 'James Bond'

James Bond’s fondness for scrambled eggs is well-known to readers of the novels, and in the short story ‘007 in New York’, Bond is even given his own scrambled eggs recipe. But what’s the origin of this recipe? Was it Ian Fleming’s invention or was someone else responsible for it? Atticus, the Sunday Times column that Fleming wrote between 1953 and 1957, has the answer.
Scrambled eggs 'James Bond'

In the short story, we learn that Bond had a particular recipe for scrambled eggs, which he had instructed the kitchen staff of New York’s Plaza Hotel to make on a previous visit. ‘Scrambled eggs “James Bond”’, given in full as a footnote to the story, is for ‘four individualists’ and requires 12 eggs, 5-6 ounces of butter, and some finely chopped herbs. It also includes the notable instruction to whisk butter into the eggs when the eggs are ‘slightly still more moist than you would wish for eating.’  

The short story, along with the recipe, first appeared in the Sunday Herald Tribune on 29th September 1963. However, the recipe had previously been published in 1961 in a collection of favourite recipes of the famous, Celebrity Cooking for You. Ian Fleming’s scrambled eggs recipe was essentially the same as that which appeared in ‘007 in New York’, but suggested that cream could be used instead of the final piece of butter. 

But the celebrity cookbook was not the first time that the recipe had appeared in print. Fleming’s Atticus column of 25th December 1955 included a small piece about scrambled eggs under the heading ‘Oeufs Attique’. Fleming began: ‘I suppose that the “Chef of the Year” is Mr Bartolemo Calderoni of May Fair Hotel [in London], for he was chosen to cook this year’s banquet for the International Academy of Chefs.’ Fleming continued: ‘Since, I dare say, that 90 per cent of the adult population believe that their scrambled eggs are better than mine, I made it my duty to obtain from this supreme authority his final five-star word on the vital subject.’

The result, Mr Calderoni’s recipe for scrambled eggs, duly appeared below that piece. There are slight differences between this recipe and later versions. For instance, the recipe is for two, so the quantities are halved, and the recipe suggests that it’s not worth using fewer eggs as too much egg sticks to the saucepan (a tip that would survive to the celebrity cookbook, but not ‘007 in New York’). There is also no mention of herbs. However, much of the recipe is more or less identical to those published subsequently, including the instruction to add butter ‘while the eggs are slightly more moist than you would wish to eat them.’ 

Thus, scrambled eggs ‘James Bond’ is really scrambled eggs ‘Bartolemo Calderoni’. Ann Fleming recorded in her letters that Ian liked his omelettes very baveuse – moist and runny – so it’s no wonder that he was so taken with Bartolemo Calderoni’s recipe. 

The recipe demonstrates once again that Atticus is a rich source for information on the Bond books, with many of the ideas and memes that appear in the novels having their origins in Fleming’s Sunday Times column.

Amory, M (ed.), 1985 The Letters of Ann Fleming, Collins Harvill, London
Chancellor, H, 2005 James Bond: The Man and his World, John Murray, London 

Gilbert, J, 2012 Ian Fleming: The Bibliography, Queen Ann Press, London

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Another James Bond pastiche by Sebastian Faulks

An edition of Radio 4’s literary quiz, The Write Stuff, recently broadcast on Radio 4 Extra, was of particular interest to Bond fans, as it featured Ian Fleming as its author of the week. Following the typical format of the programme, listeners were treated to the panellists’ favourite Fleming quotations, a quick-fire quiz round all about Fleming, and, at the end of the programme, the panellists having been tasked with concocting literary passages written in the style of the author, the resulting four pastiches. 

The quotations were taken from the novels From Russia, with Love, You Only Live Twice, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and a 1962 interview with Fleming in The New Yorker. I’m glad to report that I scored full marks on the quiz round. Unsurprisingly, team captain Sebastian Faulks had no difficulty either. 

As for the pastiches, the panellists had to imagine that James Bond had been turned down by the Secret Service and had resorted to a different career. For Sebastian Faulks, this was familiar territory, having already written a Bond pastiche, which imagined Bond shopping in a supermarket, in an earlier series. For his second effort (well, third, if you count Devil May Care), Faulks imagined Bond as a plumber, sent to fix the blocked sink of one Miss Sapho Crumpet and discovering the presence of a rival firm going by the name of SPECTRE – Surbiton Plumbing, Electrical, Carpentry and Roofing Experts.
Pistache, Faulks' 2006 collection of pastiches from The Write Stuff

Fellow panellist Mark Billingham imagined that Bond had turned to hairdressing (licensed to cut, style and blow-dry) in a pastiche that ended with a neat play on Goldfinger’s most famous line (‘No, Mr Bond, I expect you to dye’!). Natalie Haynes presented Bond as a dentist (‘Doctor? No, dentist’, Bond says to a patient), who has a licence to drill and works with a hygienist called Flossy Galore. In the final pastiche, John Walsh returned Bond to his roots, imagining Bond as an ornithologist. 

This was clever stuff, and all the pastiches were fun, but what’s interesting is that all drew, perhaps a little unimaginatively, on the Bond films of the 1960s. In three of the pastiches, dialogue by Bond was delivered in a Sean Connery-style accent, and the efforts variously referenced Dr No, Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice. Clearly, the memes of the early Bond films remain influential, more so, perhaps, than later entries.

At the time of writing, the Fleming edition of The Write Stuff is on the BBC’s iPlayer Radio, but not for long!

Tuesday 13 February 2018

What can we expect in Forever and a Day

The title of Anthony Horowitz’s second James Bond novel, due to be published in May by Jonathan Cape, was announced last week. The book, Forever and a Day, is set before the events of Casino Royale and sees James Bond earn his licence to kill and develop into the man we know from Ian Fleming’s novels. What else can we learn from the tantalising hints offered by the official press release?  

Anyone familiar with the novel of Casino Royale will remember that James Bond earned his double-O status during the Second World War by killing a Norwegian agent in Stockholm who was doubling for the Germans, and a Japanese cipher expert operating out of the RCA Building in the Rockefeller Centre in New York. Presumably the episodes will be referenced in the new novel, but the latter is especially interesting, as the Rockefeller Centre was also the headquarters of the British Security Coordination (BSC) headed by William Stephenson. The BSC represented British intelligence in the US during the war and was concerned with intelligence gathering, counter-espionage and special operations. If Horowitz’s novel describes or alludes to the killing of the cipher expert, will it link Bond more explicitly to the BSC? 

Probably not, judging by the synopsis: 
‘007 floats in the waters of Marseille, killed by an unknown hand. It’s time for a new agent to step up. Time for a new weapon in the war against organised crime. It’s time for James Bond to earn his licence to kill. This is the story of the birth of a legend, in the brutal underworld of the French Riviera.’ 
This appears to be a different narrative to that presented in Casino Royale, and it will be interesting to see how the two origins are reconciled.

In any case, the Marseille setting and mention of the underworld of the French Riviera are intriguing. We know from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service that this is Union Corse territory. Are the members of that criminal organisation involved in the death of 007? Will we be introduced to Bond’s future father-in-law, Marc-Ange Draco? There is no suggestion in OHMSS that Bond knew Draco before the events of that novel, so it seems unlikely that Bond and Draco would meet in Forever and a Day, but Draco could certainly be in the background.

It’s worth bearing in mind, too, that Marseille was home in the early 1950s to Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s operation to excavate two ancient wrecks. Ian Fleming reported on the underwater excavation for the Sunday Times and even attempted to dive to the site. It’s possible that this will inform Horowitz’s novel to some extent (just as it informed Fleming’s Live and Let Die), and indeed the author confirmed in a tweet that the book involves ‘lots of water.’ 

And will Bond eat one of the regional specialities? In OHMSS, Bond asks a Marseille taxi-driver whether the bouillabaisse (ideally made with rascasse or scorpion fish) chez Guido is always as good. Bond is clearly familiar with the dish and the local restaurants, and it might be in Horowitz’s adventure that he is introduced to them. 

One thing we do know is that the novel will, like Anthony Horowitz’s first Bond adventure, Trigger Mortis, contain original material by Ian Fleming. How it will contribute to Forever and a Day has not been revealed, but it makes the novel an even more mouth-watering prospect.

Tuesday 6 February 2018

Bond references galore as Aston Martin DB6 is restored on Car SOS

Another programme of Bondian interest to report on this week: More4's Car SOS. Each week presenters Tim Shaw and Fuzz Townshend rescue a classic car belonging to an owner unable to restore the car themselves because of straitened or other unfortunate circumstances. In an episode broadcast a few weeks ago, the hosts answered a request from a viewer to restore an Aston Martin DB6, which had mechanical problems and had been sitting and rusting in the garage for some years. The DB6 never appeared in a Bond film, but that didn't stop the presenters from playing on Aston Martin's connection with James Bond.

In the introduction to the car, the DB6 was described as the Bond car that never was; the model is closely based on the DB5, which was of course made famous by its appearance in Goldfinger. Indeed, the introduction as a whole was given a Bondian theme with graphics that recalled the gunbarrel and title sequences of the Bond films.
An introduction to the DB6 is given the Bond-film treatment
The presenters collected the car from the owner's wife (the owner was abroad and the restoration was to be a surprise) and got it back to the workshop. There was a lot to do on the car, and Tim wondered whether the car would scare 'the living daylights' out of the team of mechanics. He continued: 'It's time for the whole team to cast a golden eye over the car.' For much of the episode, Tim was wearing a semblance of a dinner suit in the form of a white jacket and bow tie. At another point, we saw a man turn towards the camera while sitting in a swivel chair and stroking a white toy cat.

Tim Shaw in 'dinner suit'
Despite the restoration being the team's 'riskiest undercover mission yet', the mechanics did wonders and managed to restore the DB6. An elaborate 'reveal' was planned. The owner was collected from the airport by his wife, who took him to a castle where they watched the filming of a fake spy film, Dr Spyfinger. There the restored car was brought into view to the obvious surprise and joy of the owner.

The restored DB6
The whole episode was full of Bond references, and it even included a visit to the Aston Martin Heritage Trust Museum in Drayton St Leonard in Oxfordshire, where, incidentally, there's a very nice display of Bond memorabilia relating to Aston Martin. Interestingly, in the previous episode of Car SOS, the team restored a Sunbeam Alpine, a model that appeared in both the film and book of Dr No. Now there's an idea: how about an entire series of Bond car restorations?