As the Orient Express rattles through Slovenia in From Russia, With Love (1957), James Bond and Tatiana Romanova sit down in the restaurant car to a breakfast of fried eggs, hard brown bread, and coffee that was mostly chicory.
If this seems like a remarkably rustic and basic meal for the luxury train, it nonetheless reflects the region through which the train is travelling, and is in keeping with James Bond’s tastes. Eggs for breakfast are, of course, a given. Normally Bond’s eggs are scrambled, but occasionally he opts for fried. We don’t know how many eggs he orders, but, writing in response to a critic, Ian Fleming claimed that ‘four fried eggs has the sound of a real man’s meal,’ and we can easily imagine that there are four eggs on Bond’s plate.
The hard brown bread brings to mind rye bread. It’s something of a staple in eastern European countries (and a speciality of the Koroška region of Slovenia), and it’s possible that the train picked up supplies during its eight-hour stop in Belgrade. In any case, James Bond is rather partial to rye bread himself, having, for example, poached eggs and rye toast on board the Manta in Thunderball (1961) and a slice of pumpernickel in Geneva in Goldfinger (1959). The bread that Bond takes on the Orient Express doesn’t appear to have been toasted, but I hope at least that it was well buttered.
As for the coffee, chicory is a well-known coffee substitute and historically has been used with coffee or on its own during times of coffee shortages. The comment that Bond’s coffee was mostly chicory is likely to allude to the food deprivations that were endemic in the Eastern Bloc. In the UK, the drink is synonymous with Camp coffee, chicory and coffee essence that is stirred into hot milk or used as a flavouring in cakes and desserts. In my recreation of Bond’s breakfast, it’s Camp coffee that I turned to.