Dying to Eat

To a 1950s postwar audience, Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels were an escape.

For the war-weary man, Bond’s adventures represented the ultimate fantasy down to the finest detail — including food, a facet largely absent from the nearly two dozen 007 films. With Dying to Eat, food stylist Charlotte Omnès and photographer Henry Hargreaves return these lavish meals to the limelight, providing an enlightening glimpse not only into Bond’s character, but Fleming as well (who it was thought was his fantasy of himself). And, by presenting an authentic picture of what was considered exotic or gourmet at the time, the images reveal much about the cultural climate of the day, as they do about the food.

For the series, Omnès and Hargreaves — whose grandfather, coincidentally, served with Fleming during the war and consulted on some of the tailoring details of the Bond books — opted to recreate one meal from each title. Shots were styled and lit to match descriptions of a wide variety of settings, from a Swiss hotel room to a Miami beach club. Rather than present the meals uneaten, the pair chose to highlight a moment in each, scattering clues — cuff links here, a woman’s purse there — as to what may have happened before, during, and after. Accordingly, each meal is more than just a detail contained within a sentence. It’s a story unto itself.