James Bond food licence to kill

James Bond serves a seafood platter

James Bond doesn’t tend to wear disguises in his film adventures (or even his literary ones, come to that). However, one form of his standard attire does lend itself to a different role and Bond puts it to good use in Licence to Kill (1989).

At Isthmus City’s casino, James Bond (Timothy Dalton) gains access to restricted areas of the building in his self-appointed mission to kill drug lord Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi) by assuming the role of a waiter carrying a tray of cocktail glasses, then delivering a trolley of food. Luckily for Bond, his dinner suit provides him with an instant disguise.

What’s on the trolley? John Gardner’s novelisation mentions cocktail snacks, but is otherwise unspecific. I’m reliably informed that the words ‘espárragos con salsa blanca (asparagus with bechemel sauce), ‘costillas con papas criollas’ (pork ribs and potatoes) and ‘cazuela de gallina’ (chicken casserole) are uttered by the kitchen staff in the background (thank you to Nicolas Suszczyk for the information). However, we can also see that seafood platters are on the menu. The platter on the top certainly includes prawns and probably oysters, along with avocado slices. And is that smoked salmon and more prawns and avocado slices on the platter below? The literary Bond would approve, though only if the salmon was Scottish and there was a French dressing to go with the avocado.

James Bond food licence to kill

The seafood platters in Licence to Kill (or should that be Licence to Krill?)

While food never seems to play as significant a role in the Bond films as it does as the books, it’s frequently there in the background (often in kitchens), and in the case of Licence to Kill it’s a useful plot device.

This year (to the week at the time of writing) marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Licence to Kill. Why not celebrate with a seafood selection, accompanied by a vodka martini, Bond’s drink of choice at the casino?

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