Each morning while at home, James Bond prefers to eat the same breakfast. As usual, Ian Fleming spares no detail in relating this specific item in From Russia With Love:
The single egg, in the dark blue egg cup with a gold ring around the top, was boiled for three and a third minutes.
It was a very fresh, speckled brown egg from French Marans hens owned by some friend of May in the country. (Bond disliked white eggs and, faddish as he was in many small things, it amused him to maintain that there was such a thing as the perfect boiled egg.)
This goes along with his specific coffee made in the specific coffeemaker, with the specific toast and the three specific spreads that he has while at home.
Marans hens, a medium-sized, dual-purpose breed of poultry, known for their dark eggs, originated in Marans, France and were imported to the United Kingdom in the 1930’s. There are nine recognized colors in the French Marans standard.
All Marans lay dark brown eggs, some varieties with the speckled specified by Fleming, as this one:
Bond’s mania for dark brown eggs is repeated in the short story 007 in New York, when it is noted:
(Bond had once had a small apartment in New York. He had tried everywhere to buy brown eggs until finally some grocery clerk had told him, ‘We don’t stock ’em, mister. People think they’re dirty.’)
When James Bond is in New York City as Peter Franks (but traveling as James Bond, if that makes sense) in Diamonds Are Forever, he is booked into the Astor Hotel by the diamond smuggling organization he is working for.
Because of that, unlike in Live and Let Die at the St Regis, Bond does not get the top suite in the hotel, just a standard room. He spends most of a weekend there, including most of the day on Saturday when he sat in his air-conditioned room, avoiding the heat and composing his report.
Tiffany Case is also staying at the Astor, and as Bond leaves her at her door Friday night, she suddenly kisses him and then pushes him away.
In the short story 007 in New York, Bond also stays at the Astor.
The Astor. It was as good as another, and Bond liked the Times Square jungle – the hideous souvenir shops, the sharp clothiers, the giant feedomats, the hypnotic neon signs, one of which said BOND in letters a mile high. Here was the guts of New York, the living entrails.
The Astor was located in what is now Times Square in Manhattan. Built in 1904, it played a large role in making Times Square the center of New York. The hotel operated until 1967 , it was destroyed in 1968 and replaced with a 54 story office building – One Astor Plaza.
While on the road to Saratoga with Felix Leiter in Diamonds Are Forever, they stop for lunch at The Chicken in the Basket for lunch. The place seems dubious,
But the scrambled eggs and sausages and hot buttered rye toast and the Millers Highlife beer came quickly and were good, and so was the iced coffee that followed it, and with their second glass they got away from’shop’ and their private lives and got on to Saratoga.
In the short story 007 In New York, James Bond is pondering his midday dining options.
And what about the best meal in New York – oyster stew with cream, crackers and Miller High Life at the Oyster Bar at Grand Central?
Bond ultimately decides against this option, but clearly it is something he has had in the past. (We’ll look at the Oyster Bar in a future post.)
High Life is Miller Brewing’s oldest brand, dating back to 1903. Because of its high carbonation level, it is known as “The Champagne of Beers” this is perhaps why Fleming included in the the story. It comes in distinctive high-necked glass bottles to go with the champagne image. Miller High Life was considered a high-end beer for many years in the United States. Now, not so much. Because of the carbonation, it’s a decent drink on a hot summer day (like drinking an alcoholic soda) but isn’t good for much else.
This American brand of cigarette pops up throughout the Bond novels.
In Casino Royale, it is the brand that American agent Felix Leiter is smoking. As they get together for their first drink.
Leiter shook at Chesterfield out of his pack. ‘I’m glad to be working with you on this job,’ he said, looking into his drink
Bond then assesses Leiter.
His grey eyes had a feline slant which was increased by his habit of screwing them up against the smoke of the Chesterfields, which he tapped out of the pack in a chain.
In Live and Let Die, Bond twice is cited as smoking Chesterfield Kings, first at the St Regis while contemplating events that brought him to his present assignment, and then while on the Silver Phantom with Solitaire.
Bond slit open a fresh pack of King Size Chesterfields with his thumb-nail, as he settled back in his comfortable chair in the warm luxurious room, his mind went back two weeks to the bitter raw day in early January when he had walked out of his Chelsea flat into the dreary half-light of a London fog.
On the train:
He dug in his pocket for his cigarettes and lighter. It was a new pack of Chesterfields and with his right hand he scrabbled at the cellophane wrapper.
Solitaire ends up opening the pack, removing a cigarette and lighting it for him. He tells her she’s going to be busy because he smokes three packs a day.
Interestingly, in Diamonds Are Forever, which takes place largely in America, we’re not told which brand Bond is smoking. He could’ve brought enough of his Morland Specials to make it through the trip, I suppose. Tiffany Case smokes her Parliaments throughout.
In Goldfinger, Bond returns to America, and he is back with his Chesterfields. When he is a guest of Mr Du Pont he starts his day as follows.
He went back into the bedroom, picked up the telephone and ordered himself a delicious, wasteful breakfast, a carton of king-sized Chesterfields and the newspapers.
He holds out the pack of Chesterfields to Jill Masterton when he meets her and she accepts one.
Then, later in the book when Bond is a guest/prisoner of Goldfinger, he enjoys bossing Oddjob around.
Oddjob, I want a lot of food, quickly. And a bottle of bourbon, soda and ice. Also a carton of Chesterfields, king-size, and either my own watch or another one as good as mine. Quick march! Chop-chop!
When Bond learns the details of Goldfinger’s plan, “he reached inside his coat pocket for the Chesterfields and lit one.”
Then, as again a prisoner of Goldfinger, he refuses to talk until his demands are met.
We will have a talk, Goldfinger. And I will tell you certain things. But not until you have taken off these straps and brought me a bottle of bourbon, ice, soda water and a packet of Chesterfields. Then, when you have told me what I wish to know, I will decide what to tell you.
When Bond locates Domino in Nassau during Thunderball, she is buying cigarettes, and actually trying to find one that will convince her to stop smoking. Bond recommends Dukes. He orders them, and she objects:
But Bond had already paid for the carton and for a packet of Chesterfields for himself.
When Bond returns to America in The Spy Who Loved Me, he offers Viv a cigarette after she offers to make him some scrambled eggs.
‘Have one? Senior Service. I suppose it’ll have to be Chesterfields from now on.’ His mouth turned slightly down as he smiled.
In 007 in New York, Bond again has his Chesterfields.
James Bond sat back and lit one of his last Morland Specials. By lunchtime it would be king-size Chesterfields.
Originally produced by the Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company, the brand was sold in 1999 to Philip Morris, and while still being produced, is more popular in Europe these days. During the 1940’s and 50’s Chesterfield was a major sponsor of television programs, and their advertisements were plentiful, many featuring major movie stars and athletes of the day.
In the New York portion of Live and Let Die, James Bond spends his nights at the St Regis, a hotel built by John Jacob Astor IV as a companion to the Waldorf-Astoria. The hotel opened in 1904.
They drew up at the best hotel in New York, the St Regis, at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 55th Street.
Dexter unlocked the door of No. 2100 and shut it behind them. They were in a small lighted lobby. They left their hats and coats on a chair and Dexter opened the door in front of them and held it for Bond to go through.
He walked into an attractive sitting-room decorated in Third Avenue ‘Empire’ – comfortable chairs and a broad sofa in pale yellow silk, a fair copy of an Aubusson on the floor, pale grey walls and ceiling, a bow-fronted French sideboard with bottles and glasses and a plated ice-bucket, a wide window through which the winter sun poured out of a Swiss-clear sky. The central heating was just bearable.
The communicating door with the bedroom opened.
As noted by John Griswold, the St Regis only has 20 floors. (So his room should’ve been 2000) He notes that Fleming meant to place Bond on the top floor of the hotel, and the confusion may have arisen in the different between the British and American methods of floor counting. The second story is considered to be the first floor for buildings in England.
Bond is then reunited with Felix Leiter.
Before their trek out to Harlem, Bond and Leiter arrange to meet in the King Cole Bar on the ground floor. This LIFE magazine ad from the 1950’s captures how the bar looked at that time:
When Bond leaves the hotel for the last time in the story, he does not go out the main entrance. Seeking to avoid being spotted, Bond “came out of the entrance of the St Regis drugstore, on 55th street which has a connecting door to the hotel.”
In the short story 007 In New York, (1963) the St Regis casually mentioned – As for the hotels, they too had gone – the Ritz Carlton, the St Regis that had died with Michael Arlen.
Arlen was an acquaintance and influence on Fleming – he mentioned him in a Author’s note on Live and Let Die that “Michael Arlen told me to write my second book before I had seen the reviews of the first & this was written in January & February 1953 at Goldeneye, Jamaica.”
Arlen was practically a full-time resident of the St Regis, and had died in 1956. It appears that to Fleming, a large part of the St Regis died with him.
An ad for the hotel from 1953 – the year Live and Let Die was written: