James and I take turns in choosing the films we’re going to watch, and we realised last week that he always picks films where everyone dies at the end, and I always pick films that end happily. We are probably educating each other in some way. It’s not that the films I pick are all sweetness and light, it’s just that the important protagonists tend to avoid actually dying. You know, so that they can stay alive to appreciate learning an important moral lesson, watching their children grow, or rocking a new makeover.

Part of the reason that I don’t particularly get along with films where everyone dies is that I think huge numbers of casualties tend to de-value each individual death. There’s no real way of discussing this without spoilers, but we watched Prometheus a couple of weeks ago, and… well, for me, a continuous slew of death after death starts to render the event meaningless. The first one is shocking and sad. But after that? You don’t have time to mourn any of the characters, and instead of regretting their demise you start thinking ‘Seriously? Another one? Why did they go in there? How did they not see that coming?’

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My exception to this hard-hearted and blasé attitude is animal death. This probably makes me some sort of monster, but although watching people die in films is bearable – albeit sometimes heart wrenching – watching animals die in films is not. I cannot ever watch I Am Legend again, because I first watched it alone and unaware and was severely traumatised. When James and I watch films together now and it looks like an animal might die, I close my eyes and block my ears and he has to tell me when it’s over. Yes, I know I am pathetic.

(By the way, if anyone out there is as pathetic as me, you will find this to be an excellent resource: https://www.doesthedogdie.com/)

Anyway, yesterday we went to see a film that we chose jointly. No animals die, so it is safe. We were very late to this party, so I am sure you have already seen Inside Out, but if you have somehow missed it then you should really go. I laughed out loud and I cried. It is one of those brilliant, beautiful, animated kids’ films that manages to appeal to children and adults alike by being fantastically funny, touching, and insightful. Some jokes will be lost on little children and appreciated only by adults, and some of the slapstick humour will have kids delighted. It is cleverly pitched to appeal both to children and to the guardians that have to take them to the cinema, so that no one is grumpy and falling asleep. It also cleverly makes a lot of psychological concepts accessible to younger children and gives them a language and a set of characters to comprehend and aid emotional expression.

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Anyway, to the recipe, which is completely unrelated as usual.

Notes: I make this salad all the time. Probably too much. It’s quick and easy, and it feeds a crowd. It’s very adaptable, and you can chuck more stuff in or take things out according to preference. It’s basically my bastardised version of tabbouleh.

This recipe will make a big bowl of salad that could be a side dish for 5-6 people.

Ingredients:

250g cooked mixed grains (lentils, bulgar wheat, quinoa, freekeh, cous cous, brown rice… whatever you fancy, or a mixture)
1 cucumber
1 200g pack of feta
1 pomegranate (or a pack of pomegranate seeds, for speed)
1 lemon
1 bunch of mint
1 bunch of coriander
1 bunch of parsley
good olive oil
salt and pepper

Method:

  1. This is just an assembly job and you probably don’t need me to tell you what to do, but just in case… Tip your cold grains into a large bowl. Chop your cucumber in half, de-seed it, then chop it into a small dice. Add the cucumber to the grains and mix. Crumble your block of feta over the grain mixture and stir. Add your pomegranate seeds. Juice your lemon and pop the juice in there too.
  2. Pick the leaves from your handfuls of herbs, and either chop them very finely or (if you’re like me and don’t have any patience) whack them all in the food processor and blitz. I then add olive oil to the mixture in the food processor as it’s running until it becomes a loose paste (probably around 5 tbsp). Add the herbs and oil to your grains. Season well, and stir.
  3. Cover and pop it in the fridge to chill for at least half an hour: this salad is best served cold. It will keep in there for a couple of days, and is great for lunches if you have leftovers.