Monday, May 15, 2017

Rolex: Crafted from the finest raw materials and assembled with scrupulous attention to detail

"He slipped his Rolex back on his wrist. Ten past six. The bar would be open -- time for a drink."

I was on page 114 of "Solo" in which the novelists' novelist, William Boyd, channels Ian Fleming, before I realized why reading about the exploits of 007 made me crave a rolex. And I'm not referring to the expensive wristwatch.

Rolex is the national street food of Uganda, where I live. They sell for about 1500 shillings; less than 50 cents. You can buy them on any street corner anywhere in the country. They are as finely crafted as Mr. Bond's Oyster Perpetual and at least as satisfying to own. 

To make a rolex the young vendor, usually a guy, mixes up two eggs with finely chopped onion and shredded cabbage. He then pours the eggs into a puddle of oil on a scalding hot, slightly concave circular cook surface heated by burning charcoal. He uses a large knife, not a spatula, to flip the egg mixture. Once cooked, he slaps a chapati on top of the eggs, flips the whole, then scoops it up with the knife blade and sets it on a nearby counter. He slices a small Italian tomato, tiles the slices across the egg and rolls up the chapati. The result resembles a small burrito. The effect of eating this delicacy is intoxicating. It is so satisfying your first thought is to order a second one. But it is so filling that by the time you've wolfed it down you can't imagine eating another until your digestion has an hour or so to do away with the cylindrical dream you've just consumed.

The name rolex apparently comes from the phrase "rolled eggs." Why the snooty watch company hasn't capitalized on this decades old craze is anybody's guess. And why the otherwise flawlessly clever William Boyd didn't have Fleming's hero eating a rolex while wearing his Rolex (while making wild jungle love with some architecturally magnificent female) shall go down as one of literature's great missed opportunities, especially given that the book takes place in Africa. 

As for "Solo," it's actually damn good, not surprisingly (Boyd grew up in Ghana and Nigeria, knows Africa, good and bad). It moves right along with Bond knocking back scotch and martinis on every other page. Scotch, 007 says, is the perfect drink for the tropics as it's best served without ice, thus it need be neither shaken nor stirred.

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