One of the more puzzling dishes offered to James Bond (Sean Connery) by Messrs Wint and Kidd (Bruce Glover and Putter Smith) on board the cruise ship at the end of Diamonds Are Forever (1971) is salade utopia. Your guess is as good as mine about what this dish comprises. It isn’t something that graces the classic cookbooks, and my researches have drawn largely drawn a blank. It could course be a dish in name only, a simple invention of the scriptwriters. One suggestion at least has been put forward, however. In his book James Bond’s Cuisine: Every Last Meal, Matt Sherman describes salade utopia as a sweet dish of gelatine, pineapple and cheese.
If that’s the case, I tempted to give it a miss; the thought of those ingredients together doesn’t exactly set my taste buds racing. That said, there is a tradition in French cuisine of gelatine-based salads; salade en gelée, for example, is a medley of cooked vegetables, such as carrot, green beans and celery, set in jelly. Cheese and pineapple, too, are a classic pairing. Think of that archetypal hors-d’oeuvre of the 1960s’ and 1970s’ dinner party: cheddar cheese squares and pineapple chunks speared on cocktail sticks. Then there are those hallucinatory salads, also of the 1960s and ’70s, consisting of cottage cheese, walnuts, and a variety of fruit, which were very much of their time.
In that light, perhaps a pineapple-and-cheese-in-jelly salad doesn’t seem so implausible, and it would be in keeping with the kipper ties, the wide lapels, and garish colour schemes of Diamonds Are Forever.
- 1 pineapple ring or 4-5 pineapple chunks
- 2-3 tsps cottage cheese
- 1 tsp walnuts, chopped
- Unflavoured gelatine powder
- Salad leaves or lettuce
- Sprig of parsley
Prepare the gelatine as instructed on the packet. If using fresh pineapple, fry the ring or chunks for 2-3 minutes in a little butter and allow to cool.
Pour enough liquid gelatine into a ramekin, small dish or jelly mould to cover the base. Sprinkle the walnuts into the ramekin, dish or mould. Spoon the cheese on top, and gently place the pineapple on the cheese. If using a pineapple ring and the vessel isn’t wide enough, cut the ring into quarters and arrange them over the cheese. Pour more gelatine into the vessel, filling it to the top and covering the pineapple. Place the vessel in the refrigerator and allow to set over several hours or overnight.
To serve, gently turn the salad out onto a bed of salad leaves or soft-leaf lettuce, and garnish with the parsley. Despite its dubious appearance, the salad is actually rather nice.