i've never been very good at demos and public outpouring of emotions. think i've seen enough of them when i was little to last me a lifetime. commies liked a good demo - i guess it's the easiest way to get a point across to others in a fairly grandiose way.
the first one i remember - and the one that probably scarred me for life - was for marshall tito's birthday when i was six. his birthday was on 25th may (he called it 'the youth day') though he was really born on 4th. so he had two birthdays, like the queen. i could never quite get my head around why 25th was somehow sexier than 4th - he could have picked a different month, at least, or why indeed he didn't just stick to his normal birthday like the rest of us.
in a build up to every 25th, when there would be a huge ceremony in belgrade, kids would line the streets of every town and city in yugoslavia, and wait for the 'baton of youth' to pass. only the swottiest kids got to carry the baton, so everyone tried to avoid this nerdy honour like the plague.
anyway, that year, which must have been my first year at school, we got taken out of classes to wait on the street, about 100 yards away from my flat, and wave little paper flags with red stars on them, and possibly throw flowers though i don't remember that bit. tito would have been alive still - just. we stood there for hours - maybe one of the swots fell over or something - and i really really needed a pee. and i didn't dare move. i mean, i could have gone home and come back in five minutes but i didn't. instead, i peed myself. really. i remember it vividly - i was hoping no one would notice but i could see a rivulet of pee winding its way down the kerb and into the gutter. it was a warm day at the beginning of summer and i can practically see that dusty pavement now.
when the flag-waving was over, i went home and told mum, who must have been mortified. she couldn't understand why i didn't just leave. i don't, to this day. i'd like to think it wasn't just me being a bit of a wuss but that, somehow, i had scrambled the instructions about what was important in this regime. being a member of the communist party and practising tito idolatry - yes; six year old girls going home to pee - no.
the last youth day i remember was just after the chernobyl in 1986, i think. it felt like summer and we walked home in one of those rains when the sky is still bright.
so, no doubt partly because of all this, demos make me overly emotional. i once nearly burst into tears driving past some doctors carrying placards and shouting outside the university college hospital - i didn't even know what they were protesting about.
back to food though...needed something quick to eat, having got home late after the gym. there was a huge bunch of parsley in the fridge, and some defrosted salmon fillets, so i thought i'd make a sauce to coat the fish in, which i imagined like icing on a cake. it wasn't a bad idea though it could do with a bit of tweaking. you could, for example, make it even more similar to pesto and include parmesan or pecorino cheese, finely grated, which would melt as you cook and form more of a crust. i also think i might do the chopping by hand next time - i quite like these things to be a bit chunky.
SALMON FILLETS WITH PARSLEY PESTO
a very large bunch of parsley - i don't mean those puny supermarket things - go to a greengrocer and get enough parsley to last you a week for less than a quid. you could also use other soft herbs like basil though i think there is something about a mix of parsley, garlic and lemon that can't be easily topped.
1 clove of garlic
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
tablespoon of pine nuts (optional)
4 salmon fillets, skin on
preheat the oven to 200C. place the fish fillets, skin side down, in a lightly oiled baking tray.
in a food processor, whiz up the parsley, lemon zest (go easy on the zest - maybe use 1/4 lemon first and taste), lemon juice, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and seasoning. you should get something the consistency of pesto sauce. spoon it over the fish and bake for 15 minutes. it might not even need that long. if the paste is still runny after this, whack it under a very hot grill for a couple of minutes but don't overcook the salmon.
we had it with some quickly wilted spinach, braised chicory and a couple of semi-roasted tomatoes. semi because i didn't put them in early enough and they were all show and no substance.