Nicole Diver was the last major representation in print of F Scott Fitzgerald’s wonderful but troubled wife, Zelda. In The Beautiful and Damned, he showed her at her beautiful, captivating best. By the time he published Tender is the Night, however, she had been living in a succession of sanatoria and psychiatric clinics, so this portrayal is raw and more realistic. However, Nicole is a woman who seems in control. With her husband Dick, she has made the French Riviera popular and all the women look up to her. When she leaves Dick, he is ruined.
Fitzgerald toyed with the structure of the novel, but many editions of the book begin when Rosemary Hoyt, an impressionable young actress, first encounters Nicole, Dick and their entourage in the South of France:
Nicole Diver, her brown back hanging from her pearls, was looking through a recipe book for Chicken Maryland. She was about twenty-four, Rosemary guessed – her face could have been described in terms of conventional prettiness, but the effect was that it had been made first on the heroic scale, with strong structure and marking, as if the features and vividness of brow and colouring, everything we associate with temperament and character, had been moulded with a Rodinesque intention, and then chiselled away in the direction of prettiness to a point where a single slip would have irreparably diminished its force and quality. With the mouth the sculptor had taken desperate chances – it was the cupid’s bow of a magazine cover, yet it shared the distinction with the rest.
Come to dinner Nicole, and we will have…
This is not to be confused with the strange dish which the UK 'enjoyed' in the 1960s and had the bizarre inclusion of banana. Nicole Diver, sitting on a French beach in the 1930s, would certainly have been searching for the traditional East Coast recipe.This is a vegetarian version of it.
4 quorn fillets, defrosted if frozen
4tbsp plain flour
salt and black pepper
2 medium free range eggs*
100g golden breadcrumbs
300ml single cream
*I started this recipe with one (see pic) but found it needed an extra.
Mix the flour and paprika on a plate, and season with the salt and pepper.
Crack the egg in a bowl and whisk.
Dip each quorn fillet into the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs.
Melt the butter in a pan and add the oil.
When hot, fry the fillets.
Cover the pan with a lid and allow to stand for a few minutes so that the fillets are hot right through.
Remove the fillets and place on a plate in the oven or under a grill to keep warm.