I hung out yesterday with a friend who is very enthusiastic about chickens. He has many chickens at his home, and as he sat in the garden drinking beer with me, I could tell from the way he watched my four chickens that he loved them.
He is trying to raise a bunch of Marans chickens, a French breed which it is illegal to bring into the U.S. He bought twenty chicks in Georgia, which, disappointingly, is quite legal. I guess once the chickens are here there’s no problem. This disappointed me greatly because I’d thought for a moment that I knew a chicken smuggler.
Anyway, Marans lay a dark chocolate-colored egg which is said to be super-duper delicious. My friend told me that his experience was “Yeah, yeah, I’m sure they’re good, but an egg’s an egg…wait…these are amazingly delicious!” This from someone who’s very used to the eggs of free range chickens; the Marans eggs were that outstanding. I’m really looking forward to trying some when his chickens are grown.
This friend also mentioned that Marans are James Bond’s favorite eggs. Ian Fleming loved egg dishes, and he gave James Bond a voracious appetite for eggs, particularly scrambled eggs. Here is a recipe for the Bond eggs, which has much molten butter whisked in, and was included in Ian Fleming’s short story Thrilling Cities.
When in England and not on a mission, Bond dines as simply as Fleming did on dishes such as grilled sole, oeufs en cocotte and cold roast beef with potato salad. When on a mission, however, Bond eats more extravagantly. This was partly because in 1953, when Casino Royale was published, many items of food were still rationed, and Bond was “the ideal antidote to Britain’s postwar austerity, rationing and the looming premonition of lost power”. This extravagance was more noteworthy with his contemporary readers for Bond eating exotic, local foods when abroad, at a time when most of his readership did not travel abroad.
On 1 April 1958 Fleming wrote to The Manchester Guardian in defence of his work, referring to that paper’s review of Dr. No. Whilst referring to Bond’s food and wine consumption as “gimmickery”, Fleming bemoaned that “it has become an unfortunate trade-mark. I myself abhor Wine-and-Foodmanship. My own favourite food is scrambled eggs.” Fleming was so keen on scrambled eggs that he used his short story, “007 in New York” to provide his favourite recipe for the dish: in the story, this came from the housekeeper of his friend Ivar Bryce, May, who gave her name to Bond’s own housekeeper.
Scrambled eggs are, by the way, delicious for dinner. In this iconic Ron Swanson clip (the “Turf n’ Turf), the right to consume a t-bone, a porterhouse, a whiskey, and a cigar at the same time is heralded as quintessentially American. It might be. It is certainly quintessentially testosteroney. But what remains unmentioned by Swanson is the generous serving of scrambled eggs next to the steaks. Fleming and Bond would have been proud.