Gun, With Occasional Pasta


If your image of James Bond is based wholly on his screen persona, you might be shocked to discover a slightly more well-rounded character in the original books upon which the film series is based.

This is not to say that you won't find the literary Bond consumed with the usual womanizing, extortion plots, spy gadgets, and corny puns. The secret agent is still a cliché, but on paper, he actually has an interior life. Well, almost. Take, for example his appetite. If you’ve seen only one James Bond movie, you know what the secret agent likes to drink (martinis "shaken, not stirred"), but what does he like to eat?

In Ian Fleming’s Thunderball (1961), Bond reveals a penchant for pasta that may be a surprise to those who are only familiar with his celluloid self.

As the book opens, the secret agent has been ordered to spend two weeks suffering a numbing 1960s “nature cure” of strict dieting, sitz baths, and spine stretching at a retreat in Brighton called Shrublands.

Inevitably, libido and intrigue -- in the form of of Patricia Fearing, a hot osteopath, and Count Lippe, a scheming adversary -- interrupt the forced respite. As Bond plans his next move, Fleming divulges 007's desire for sex, revenge, and, well, spaghetti:

James Bond would have been more worried, as day by day the H-cure drew his teeth, if it had not been for three obsessions which belonged to his former life and which would not leave him—a passionate longing for a large dish of Spaghetti Bolognese containing plenty of chopped garlic and accompanied by a whole bottle of the cheapest, rawest Chianti (bulk for his empty stomach and sharp tastes for his starved palate), an overwhelming desire for the strong, smooth body of Patricia Fearing, and a deadly concentration on ways and means to wring the guts out of Count Lippe. [emphasis mine]

Bolognese and Chianti. Who knew? And here I thought the man existed solely on cocktails!



Something of a tangent: I remember a Wine Spectator article from back when "Die Another Day" came out (either that or TWINE). It talked about how even his screen persona was one of the first times you could find a masculine good guy who was knnowledgeable about food and wine. Before then, knowing the quality of vintages and the like was restricted to villains or effeminate characters (think Peter Lorre). I don't know how accurate it was, but it was interesting nonetheless.


I devoured all of Fleming's works when I was in junior high school and quickly acquired Bond's taste (for my future self) for the finer things in life, food included. I seem to remember a reference somewhere to pesto, and I cannot find which book that would have been in. Would 007 really have compromised his breath on such a garlic-laden dish, or am I just dreaming?


Derrick, I'd love to see that article. Sounds like an interesting (and compelling) cultural analysis. I'm going to search for it now.

Stuart, this was only my second foray into the Bond books, so I'm not so sure about the pesto. However, if he likes his Bolognese with "plenty of chopped garlic," I'd imagine pesto is plausible.


Derrick, thanks to the miracle of google cache, I believe I found the article:


The comments to this entry are closed.