Food You Can Eat: Celebrity Sunday Matinee: Ian Fleming’s Scrambled Eggs and the James Bond Martini (2 Versions)

There's an old saying in fiction writing that you should write what you know. Ian Fleming, incredibly, did this (sort of).

Ian Fleming, left, obviously, with a very hot Sean Connery, during the filming of Dr. No in Jamaica in 1962

Fans of James Bond will be delighted to learn that his creator, Ian Fleming, was rather Bond-like himself.

Ian Fleming was born in 1908, the second of four brothers. He was born at home, as he would have been then, because he came from a wealthy family. His father Valentine was the Conservative MP for Henley until his death in combat during WWI, and his grandfather Robert founded the merchant bank Robert Fleming & Co. Like dear old Dad Ian was educated at Eton but due to his drinking and womanizing (Eton is a secondary school, like an extremely posh and selective American high school) he was urged to leave before graduation. He was subsequently shipped off to Sandhurst, which is (or maybe was) like a very patrician West Point. Hazza and Wills both did a spell there, as was expected. Ian didn’t last long though, and was deemed unfit for training when he was diagnosed with gonorrhea. He was 18 or 19.

When neither shaking nor stirring Ian bummed around, briefly attended three foreign schools, had several affairs, at his widowed mother’s insistence went into banking which he wasn’t very good at, did a little stint in newspapering, and barely passed the Foreign Office exam and was eventually given a job because of his mother’s intervention/bullying.

Now this is where he morphs into James Bond. He was attached to Naval Intelligence and was brilliant at crafting all sorts of spycraft schemes. In 1941 (so the story goes) he was hanging about at the casino in Estoril, in neutral Portugal, and imagined a scenario whereby the place was teeming with ruthless Nazi operatives and was a place of peril and intrigue. In fact, the casino itself was actually kind of a dull place full of locals and ex-pats just waiting for WWII to be over so they could finally get out of Portugal and go home, with the city itself teeming with refugees, most of them Jewish, desperate to board boats in Lisbon that would take them anywhere but their home countries.

The war did end, finally, and Ian “became the foreign manager in the Kemsley newspaper group, which at the time owned The Sunday Times. In this role he oversaw the paper’s worldwide network of correspondents. His contract allowed him to take three months’ holiday every winter, which he took in Jamaica.” Thanks, wiki. There he had a mini-estate called Goldeneye, named after one of his successful WWII espionage campaigns.

If you’ve watched The Crown, and you remember the interlude where Princess Margaret is hanging around in Mustique, where she was staying must have been what Goldeneye was like. Ian womanized and had a long-term affair with a woman named Ann Charteris. Hers is a biography I would love to read. Anyway, she was married to the 2nd Viscount Rothermere but she used to escape to Jamaica as often as she could and her handy excuse was that she was visiting their good friend Noël Coward, who was a neighbor of Ian Fleming’s. Viscount Rothermere finally had enough of this nonsense and divorced Ann, and she married Ian Fleming. There’s a little bit of irony to this because the Harmsworth family, the possessors of the Rothermere title, founded and to this day own and publish the Daily Mail scandal sheet. For Ann, this was her third and final marriage. For Ian, it was his first. He was in his mid-40s.

Now Ian and Ann have maybe become a little Duke and Duchess of Windsor-ish. They weren’t exactly exiled, since they spent a lot of time back in England, and they both continued having affairs, but they were bored. Ann occupied herself by painting watercolors, and Ian smoked and drank and skirt-chased. As the story goes, one day Ann suggested to Ian that he dust off his typewriter and write down some of his stories and use his newspaper/publishing connections to maybe get something published.

The result was the first Bond novel, Casino Royale, which was a runaway success. Sadly, although Ian must have become very rich because he churned out 12 Bond novels, Bond short stories, and, bizarrely, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and lived long enough to see a few turned into hugely successful movies (not that he was always pleased with the results), he died young, at 56, in 1964. [Edit: When he died he left an estate “valued at £302,147 (equivalent to £6,513,997 in 2021” which, he either ran through money like water or he was getting ripped off, or both.] Another sad coda is that he only had one child, with Ann, a boy named Caspar who deliberately overdosed himself at the age of 23.

That’s the problem with these CSMs: they often end on a morbid note. But nonetheless, here is a recipe from the short story The Living Daylights.

Ian Fleming’s Scrambled Eggs “James Bond”:

For FOUR individualists:

12 fresh eggs

Salt and pepper

5-6 ounces of fresh butter

Chives or other herbs, finely chopped

Break the eggs into a bowl. Beat thoroughly with a fork and season well. In a small copper (or heavy-bottomed saucepan) melt four oz. of the butter. When melted, pour in the eggs and cook over a very low heat, whisking continuously with a small egg whisk.

While the eggs are slightly more moist than you would wish for eating, remove pan from heat, add rest of butter and continue whisking for half a minute, adding all the while finely chopped chives or fine herbs. Serve on hot buttered toast in individual copper dishes (for appearance only) with pink champagne (Taittanger) and low music. [Editorial note: I can no more imagine Ian Fleming or James Bond drinking a glass of pink champagne than I can imagine him popping a PBR at a Texas Longhorns tailgate party, so presumably what you’re doing here is preparing breakfast for your bed partner in the hopes that she will fortify herself for another round or two.]

The James Bond Classic Martini:

This is very boring and always horrifies martini purists, who fetishize gin. I’ve been drinking these for so long (without the James Bond connection) that I’m almost sure my mother packed them in my elementary school lunchbox.

2 measures vodka

½ – ¾ dry vermouth (depending on taste)

twist of fresh lemon peel 

Shake to mix, pour into a martini glass, rub peel around the glass rim before placing it in the drink

The James Bond Vesper Martini:

This comes from the (inferior) 2006 Casino Royale, where Daniel Craig orders it and calls it this. The femme fatale is named Vesper. 

3 measures gin

1 measure vodka

½ measure Lillet Blanc or dry vermouth with a few dashes of bitters 

twist of fresh lemon peel

Shake to mix, strain into a martini glass, rub peel around the glass rim before placing it in the drink



  1. I always pictured the literary Bond having a similar demise to Fleming in some ways. I figured a combination of the booze, high blood pressure from eating too well, side affects of trauma/wounds or STDs would have killed Bond. He was not meant to be a pensioner whinging about too many WOGs in London or those damn Hun cars while sitting in a Coronation St like pub.

    David Niven and Hoagy Carmichael (Bond was often said by Fleming to look like him) were asked to be Bond before Sean Connery said Yesh.

    Also served with step cousin Christopher Lee in the Special Operations Executive (aka the real life 00 section of WW2) who was better known as the Hammer Dracula and later played Scaramanga in the not so great Man With The Golden Gun.

    • I’ve always liked the fan theory that Bond is a classification rather than an individual. When one Bond dies of syphilis, alcohol poisoning, or at the hands of agents of SMERSH, another individual takes on the role and identity of James Bond, 007. That way the agent no longer has a past or family that could be used against him. It rather neatly ties up all the Bond movies and timeframes. They’re all Bonds, just different Bonds.

    • While I was obsessively watching Mad Men (I think I’ve seen every episode at least three times, and some of the episodes more than that) I had a similar thought about Don Draper. He would have been born around 1930, maybe 1933 at the outside (he was born during the Depression and served in Korea.) What would he have been like in 2013? He would have been 80.


      Would he have stayed in California after his epiphany? Maybe, but you can easily imagine him voting for Proposition 13 and, sometime around 1980, complaining about Los Angeles going down the toilet because, well, you know, and happily voting for Reagan for President. One of the very first Mad Men episodes has the crew working on the Nixon Presidential campaign and it’s not difficult to imagine that most of them would have voted for Nixon. Maybe not Peggy the good Catholic, but I bet Don would have, and Bets certainly would have. They live in Ossining, which is in Westchester, and Westchester went for Nixon. I bet Don would have joined the flight from California in search of lower taxes upon retirement and probably would have wound up in Arizona. Or maybe he has so much money that he retires to Hawaii. If he stayed in California he probably would have wound up somewhere like Santa Barbara County or maybe one of the wealthy, conservative, Orange County beach towns.

      I often think about this when I see photos of Woodstock, or San Francisco’s Summer of Love, or the various draft riots from the Vietnam era. What happened to you all? Lots of them, probably the majority, went on to become Reagan voters and are today raising hell about drag queen story hours, though they have no school-age children.

      Ah well. Back to work, which for me never seems to cease.

      • Could say that about all the other generations. Gen-X, the slacker generation (but in reality the first to get fucked by Raygun era deregulation) is morphing into a bunch of angry dipshits. I haven’t caught myself pointing fingers at my younger coworkers screaming about their shitty music, fashion choices or work ethic… yet.

        I know some of my friends have (and I look at them with a “What the fuck?” look).

        About the only thing keeping me from being one of them is the fact I’m well read and educated (even among the sort of read and educated.)

        As for Don Draper… I figured he would have been mixed up with the Nixon plumbers somehow.  Don Draper really should have joined the CIA instead of McCann Erickson. The inept Christians In Action (not the CIA of Felix Leiter) who never bothered to actually understand the nations they undermined or the history of the Soviet Union.

  2. he either ran through money like water or he was getting ripped off, or both.

    Income taxes were really high at that time on high earners who didn’t make use of tax shelters. He may have also had a bad accountant.

    • I thought of that, but I also thought that’s where the estate (be bought, he did not inherit it) in Jamaica came in. Our friend Sean Connery up there did this. He bought his own estate in Lyford Cay in the Bahamas and became a tax refugee.

      • A funny thing about Sean Connery is that when the Scottish independence movement seemed like a very fringe idea he was one of the first to join in and was a very vocal advocate. Not that he would have ever gone back and actually lived there, of course.

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