A visit to Shrublands health farm in Thunderball (1961) proves to be something of an culinary eye-opener for James Bond. Foregoing his usual steaks, fried fish, and rich sauces, Bond is introduced to such treats as dandelion tea, potassium broth and ‘unmalted slippery elm’ while undergoing his course of treatment. As his treatment progresss and he begins to feel well and healthy, Bond worries that he’s going soft and wonders whether he’s destined to join the H-bomb marchers and eat nut cutlets. He needn’t have worried. His craving for spaghetti bolognese, his desire to make love to Patricia Fearing, and his suspicions of Count Lippe are enough to keep him on the straight and narrow.
We don’t know whether Bond actually eats nut cutlets at Shrublands, but food of that sort was a staple at health farms. A vegetarian cookbook published in 1940 by Glendale Sanitarium includes mock veal cutlets and nut roasts. The recipe for nut cutlets below is inspired by the recipes in that cookbook, as well as recipes in the Vegetarian Cook Book (1956) published by the religious organisation, the Israelite House of David. Both give my recipe an authentic flavour that is more or less contemporaneous with Bond’s experiences. I have, however, adapted the recipes to make them vegan, replacing the eggs that are usually specified with tofu. The nut mixture that’s created could be made into a nut roast, but, as the cookbooks make clear, it’s turned into cutlets by being sliced and breadcrumbed. The slices can then be fried, but I recommend oven-baking them for the healthier option, as befitting a stay at Shrublands.
- 50g breadcrumbs (approx. 1 slice)
- 100g waluts, shelled
- 100g peanuts
- 100g garden peas (if using frozen, allow to defrost)
- 100g tofu
- 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tsp finely chopped parsley
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- Pinch each of salt and black pepper
For the breadcrumb coating
- Breadcrumbs from 1-2 slices bread
- 2-3 tbsp flour
- Egg subsitute or other binding agent
Very finely chop the walnuts and peanuts in a food processor. Add the breadcrumbs, peas, tofu, onion, parsley, tomato purée, and salt and pepper to the processor and blend until well mixed. Turn the mixture out onto a large dish and bring it together with your hands, shaping it into a loaf or rectangular block. Place the dish into the fridge for about an hour.
Place the remaining breadcrumbs, flour and binding agent into separate bowls. Brush a baking tray with vegetable oil and heat the oven to 220C (200C fan-assisted; 425F).
Remove the nut mixture from the fridge. Slice into 1.5cm or half-inch slices. Coat each slice with flour, binding agent, and breadcrumbs (in that order) before placing the slice on the baking tray. Once all the slices are coated, place the tray in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
Serve with a salad and glass of dandelion wine.