What does James Bond like to spread on his toast in the morning, put onto his eggs and bacon, or splash onto his grilled sole? If you said Little Scarlet strawberry jam, a sprinkling of fines herbes, or a meuniere sauce, you’d be a bit behind the times.
The Bond of Ian Fleming’s novels may be content with the jam, herbs and butter sauce, but the cinematic Bond demands accompaniments with a little more kick, as demonstrated in the Jamaican set of No Time To Die (2021).
The designers and artists responsible for James Bond’s Jamaican house (Mark Tildesley, Neal Callow and others) had an eye for detail. There’s the desk that’s based on the desk at which Fleming wrote at Goldeneye; there’s a bottle of rum from the distillery of Chris Blackwell, who, apart from founding Island Records and being the current owner of Goldeneye, was a location scout for Dr No (1962) and whose mother, Blanche, was romantically involved with Ian Fleming; and there’s a stack of carefully selected books that gives Bond (Daniel Craig) a suitably sophisticated air. Blink and you’ll miss them all, but one aspect of the house that got even less screen time was Bond’s kitchen, something we haven’t seen since Live and Let Die. Fortunately, in one of those behind-the-scenes videos that were released in the months leading up to the eventual release of No Time To Die, the kitchen is presented in all its glory. And looking at it closely, there are some interesting details.
The designers have gone for a rustic aesthetic, doing away with the state-of-the-art fitted kitchen of Live and Let Die and opting instead for individual pieces of vintage wooden furniture – a dresser-like arrangement and a kitchen table – with the only nod to modern comforts being a fridge-freezer. It’s on the bottom shelf of the dresser that we see some notable items: a jar of Marmite, a bottle of what appears to be hot pepper sauce, and a bottle of HP Sauce.
In the UK, Marmite, a treacly, yeast-based spread typically used for toast and sandwiches, trades on its reputation as a spread that divides opinion: you either love it or you hate it. And, while we don’t really see it on screen, the spread serves as a metaphor for the film itself. If any Bond film can be described as a Marmite film, it’s No Time To Die, which has also divided opinion like no other. (For the record, I love the film, but hate Marmite.)
The bottle of HP Sauce (or ‘brown sauce’), typically dolloped onto bacon sandwhiches or ‘full English’ breakfasts, seems an odd choice, there being no hint in the books or previous films that Bond is partial to the stuff. But, with the London iconography on the label, it’s a little bit of England in Jamaica – even Bond gets homesick – and may well have been selected to convey that notion. Curiously, the bottle is of ‘squeezable’ type and has been placed on the shelf upside down.
In between the Marmite and HP Sauce, there’s a bottle of hot pepper sauce, or something very much like it. I’ve not been able to identify the brand, so if anyone recognises it, please do drop me a line in the comments.
There are more interesting items on the kitchen table. It’s difficult to identify them, but one thing that is recognisable from its distinctive shape is the bottle of Sarson’s malt vinegar. If you look closely, you can just make out the back of the label. I’m also tempted to identify a small pot of Colman’s mustard in front of the vinegar. If that’s what it is, Bond is well on the way to being able to reproduce his signature salad dressing.
No Bond kitchen would be complete without some form of coffee-making equipment. Here, keeping with the rustic look, Bond is provided with a simple stove-top moka pot, perfect for espressos.
(Thanks to MI6-HQ and Phil Nobile, whose tweets alerted me to the video, Bond’s kitchen, and the Marmite.)