What’s on the menu in the Fillet of Soul?

James Bond doesn’t eat much during his film adventures, but food does appear in the films, albeit in the background. Take Live and Let Die (1973), for example. When James Bond (Roger Moore) enters the Fillet of Soul bar and restaurant in New York, he is directed to a booth, behind which, painted on the wall, is a menu. If Bond hadn’t had a nasty turn in the booth and had considered staying for a bite to eat, he would have had the choice of the following items:

  • Hot dog…50 cents (that is, ‘dressed’, presumably with some kind of sauce; I can’t make out the option above it)
  • Corn dog…40 cents
  • Hamburger…65 / 75 cents (what extras come with the 75c-burger?)
  • Cheeseburger…70 / 80 cents
  • Pizza roll…40 cents
  • French fried potatoes…35 cents
  • Shrimp roll…50 cents

The scene shows Bond as a fish out of water; as Bond enters, the people at the bar stop their conversations and all eyes follow him to the bar. As CIA agent Harold Strutter tells Bond later,  ‘It got obvious you weren’t coming out front. Not even with that clever disguise you were wearing. A white face in Harlem.’ In a way, the menu serves to reinforce Bond’s discomfort, and briefly Bond appears to study the menu as if unfamiliar with the options. With no caviar, grilled sole or cafe complet on offer, this is a different world to the one he’s used to.

In contrast, the Bond of the novels may have felt a little more at home. The food items may not seem to be particularly Bondian, but the literary Bond (in Fleming’s novels) has at least eaten two of the items. In the novel of Live and Let Die, Bond consumes a hamburger and french fries and considers the meal American cooking at its rare best. That said, like the butterscotch sauce that comes with the icecream that follows, he may have had a mental reservation about the pizza roll (probably a pillow-shaped concoction of pizza dough filled with the usual pizza toppings). In addition, Bond observes adverstisements for hot dogs and burgers in Las Vegas in Diamonds are Forever.

The prices on the Fillet of Soul menu seem about right for the period, although there were cheaper options. A McDonald’s’ menu dated 1972 shows a cheeseburger costing 33 cents, a hamburger 28 cents and french fries costing 26 cents.

 

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