Friday, April 13, 2007

Eggs, 20th C Style.

Today, April 13th ...

First: Eggs Whisked, not Stirred:

The writer Ian Fleming’s first novel – Casino Royale – was published on this day in 1953, which, as it turns out, is very timely during our Egg Week. The chief protagonist in the novel is of course James Bond, whose exploits as Agent 007 of the British Secret Service were continued in further novels by Fleming, and subsequently by numerous movie-makers. James Bond almost singlehandedly saves Britain in particular and the world in general from a series of dastardly bad guys without pausing in his womanising or compromising in his martini standards. It is well known that his signature drink is the vodka martini, which he insists is “shaken, not stirred”, but what is less well known is that his favourite meal is scrambled eggs. Ian Fleming let this little secret out in a short story called “007 in New York”, which appeared in some editions of an anthology called “Thrilling Cities”. He even gave the recipe:

“ . . The Edwardian Room at The Plaza, a corner table. They didn't know him there, but he knew he could get what he wanted to eat - not like Chambord or Pavillon with their irritating Wine and Foodsmanship and, in the case of the latter, the miasma of a hundred different women's scents to confound your palate. He would have one more dry martini at the table, then smoked salmon and the particular scrambled eggs he had once (Felix Leiter knew the head-waiter) instructed them how to make:

For four individualists:
12 fresh eggs
Salt and pepper
5-6 oz. of fresh butter.

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 the pan from heat, add rest of butter and continue whisking for half a minute, adding the while finely chopped chives or fines herbes. Serve on hot buttered toast in individual copper dishes (for appearance only) with pink champagne (Taittinger) and low music.”

Secret Agents must sometimes resort to disguise, which can also be a fun thing for an egg to do, as in this recipe by those elegant ladies Leyel and Hartley in The Gentle Art of Cookery (1925).

Eggs in Overcoats.
Six eggs and the whites of two more, six large potatoes, six tablespoonfuls of minced ham, two tablespoonfuls of chopped parsley, three tablespoonfuls of cream, salt and pepper.
Bake the potatoes; cut a piece off the top of each and scoop out the inside. Mash it with a little hot milk. Add the minced ham, parsley, cream and butter, salt and pepper, and bind the mixture with the well-beaten whites of two eggs. Line the potato skins with the mixture.
Poach six eggs lightly, put a poached egg into each potato, cover each potato with the mashed potato mixture, and bake till this is brown.

This dish is also a Double Agent as it could just as easily sneak into the Potato Recipe archive, could it not?

20th C Egg Recipes from previous stories:

Eggs cooked with Marigold (1925)
Devilled Eggs. (1925)
Eggs en Surprise [1912]
Beauregard Eggs [1911]
Egg and Potato Scallop [1911]
Tamago Bolan (Peony Eggs) [1914]

This Day Last Year ...

The American explorers Lewis and Clark ate dog meat on this day.


T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

While I've always been a huge fan of James Bond (Connery, Brosnan, and Diana Rigg's star turn, as well) I had no idea that 007 was a fan of scrambled eggs, nor that he'd been to NYC. I'll have to locate that short story.

Anonymous said...

Nero Wolfe (the fictional NY City detective, orchid fancier and gourmand, created by Rex Stout) had a similar recipe for scrambled eggs, which he said had to cook over low heat in a bain marie for 45 minutes). I wonder if one of these authors accidentally copied the other, or if it's pure coincidence?

How's the hubby?

Anonymous said...

Sorry to spam, but I've answered my own question. In 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service,' it is mentioned that both Bond and M have read Nero Wolfe.

BTW, the scrambled egg's are first mentioned by Mr Wolfe in, I believe, the book Mother Hunt.