Mirror Magazine


Destined to lead
After six months of hard work the English Literary Association of St. Joseph's College is set to present an adaptation of 'The Prince of Egypt'. It is a tale of love and hate, hope and courage, freedom and suffering, power and destiny.

The production is designed, directed and choreographed by actor/director/playwright Jehan Aloysius.

One of the more radical interpretations of the popular biblical tale of Moses, the script portrays the emotions of the two men who after being raised as brothers are forced to battle each other when they realize that all that they had believed in was a lie. Their common goal of building a greater Egypt together as brothers has become a distant memory.

Watch as a babe who was placed in the care of the River Nile, grows up to be the man who reunites a broken race with their forgotten God. One God, the God of the Hebrews, battles with the might of the greatest nation in the world. One God against the hundred or so Gods of Egypt. One God to free a nation from a life of suffering and bondage.

One man against his brother. One man against his own people's doubt. One man against his own skepticism and disbelief. The Prince of Egypt is a clash of the titans which will leave you spellbound.

Moses who leaves his home in anguish and shame must rediscover himself in the land of the Midian. He must learn to stop judging his life through the worldly eyes of man and to start looking at it through heaven's eyes. He must learn to love again as he re-encounters the woman he met under different circumstances. He must learn that life sometimes turns out as one cannot foresee. Lessons not only for Moses, but for every human being.

This is a story of epic proportions, and one that will captivate the hearts of anyone of any age. Watch with awe as the River Nile flows with all its might, the nine plagues torment Egypt and the Red Sea is divided in two. All this is brought to life with an able technical team, which includes Thushan Dias who will provide computerized lighting, and Ranga Dassanayake who will provide the soundtrack for the play. The play will also have a special guest appearance by Juanita Beling, an actress and singer who has made her name in major musicals.

Be at the Lionel Wendt on February 13, 14 and 15 as the English Literary Union of St. Joseph's College, Colombo 10, brings to life their interpretation of The Prince of Egypt. You will never see Moses through the same eyes again!

Sushi delight
Ayesha R. Rafiq experiences a taste of Japan
My earliest memory of raw food is gagging on an uncooked prawn which had somehow managed to find itself into my mouth, at around the age of four. Since then I have studiously avoided eating anything more wiggly than a carrot without cooking it first. Imagine then my horror when my family conspired to reintroduce me to the joys of raw food.

No, it's not because the price of gas has increased and we can't afford to cook our food before eating it anymore, (although that possibility doesn't seem too unlikely in the near future). It has to do with the wonders of Japanese cuisine and its culinary zenith: SUSHI.

The Japanese are firm believers of the adage that the best way to cook a fish is not to. They even have a proverb for it - 'Eat it raw first of all, then grill it and as a last resort boil it'. They seem to have taken this so seriously that anything from seafood to horse meat they will eat raw.

To understand the magic of sushi, let's go back to 7th century Japan when sushi was first introduced. In the days of ancient inconvenience (no fridges, televisions, cars, etc.), sushi making was a method of preserving fish. People preserved raw fish by packing it between layers of rice and salt and weighting it with a stone. As it fermented, the rice produced lactic acid which pickled the fish and kept it from spoiling. The process would take upto a year, after which the fish was eaten and the rice was discarded.

In the mid 17th century a doctor named Matsumoto Yoshichi hit upon the idea of adding vinegar to sushi rice, which gave a pleasing tartness to the rice and fish and reduced the time necessary to wait before eating sushi, to about two months.

In 1824 an enterprising man named Hanaya Yohei conceived of the idea of sliced, raw seafood at its freshest, served on small fingers of vinegared rice - an instant improvement on Matsumoto's dish, and the beginning of modern day sushi.

The versatility of sushi which means it can be eaten as a snack or a meal led to the setting up of roadside stalls where sushi was served. Customers would wipe their fingers on a curtain hanging by the side of the stall after eating, and the dirtier the curtain, the more popular the stall.

Let's time warp to 21st century Sri Lanka and into Pier 56 and Nihonbashi, two of the five restaurants in Colombo featuring sushi bars offering a variety of delectable dishes.

Dharshan Munidasa, CEO of the Nihonbashi Japanese restaurant and son of a Sri Lankan father and Japanese mother gives me an insight into Japanese cooking. "The essence of Japanese cooking are the ingredients. You cannot substitute and you cannot settle for anything less than the best." And for sushi this means having nothing but the freshest fish. "If your fish smells like fish, then its half rotting. The freshest fish has a mild and pleasing aroma and makes all the difference in taste."

Being raw and uncooked, sushi could contain harmful bacteria that might otherwise be destroyed while being cooked. Research has found a link between sushi consumption and a high incidence of stomach cancer in the Japanese population. It's important that you only eat sushi from a reputed restaurant where you are confident the fish is clean and stored properly.

But sushi can also be considered healthy. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are known to be protective against heart disease and can be labelled a low-fat food. The nori or seaweed is rich in vitamins and minerals and iodine of which Sri Lankans have a low intake. Wasabi or the pale green horseradish which is a necessary accompaniment to sushi is known to act as a food poisoning antidote. If the fish is eaten in a sushi meal of rice, seaweed and avocado it is a perfectly balanced low calorie meal of carbohydrate, protein and fat.

Keshini Mohamed Ali, co-owner of the Pier 56 restaurant admits that sushi eating is something of an acquired taste. "Not everybody who tries it likes it, but certainly a lot of our customers come back for more." Sushi, in fact, refers to the rice which the fish is wrapped in. The raw fish itself is called sashimi. "Maki sushi is the sushi roll, and then we have nigiri sushi, which is raw seafood placed on top of a ball of rice." Both Pier 56 and Nihonbashi offer a wide variety of sushi ingredients, with salmon, tuna, crab and shrimp for the timid while the bold can opt for eel, octopus and ark shell, which can cost upto Rs. 1500 per portion.

Sushi-making is not an easy art to learn and for a sushi chef to be considered at the top of his art he would need at least three years of training. Filleting the fish and making the vinegar rice are the two most difficult aspects of sushi-making. There are many different and impossibly precise cuts used for different fish, including the most difficult paper thin slice, so thin the pattern on a piece of china can be seen through it. Original sushi knives are made out of steel that were once used to make samurai swords and are extremely sharp and durable. Once the fish is filleted it is wrapped together with other ingredients such as avocado, cucumber and crab in rice and seaweed and rolled and cut.

If you are to eat sushi you should first arm yourself with sushi etiquette. Smoking in a sushi bar is generally frowned upon, for the same reason that meals are not cooked there. The odours obliterate the delicate flavour of the fish. Sushi is not finger food and should be eaten with chopsticks. But this is easier said than done as I found out. You will be served sushi with wasabi, ginger and soy sauce. Mix the wasabi in soy sauce, briefly dip, do not soak, the sushi fish side in the sauce and put the whole thing into your mouth. Don't try to eat it bite by bite as it will most definitely disintegrate all over your skirt. Eat the sliced ginger in between to clean your palate. Order sake or a light beer to drink.

At Pier 56, I watch Ilangatillake, the sushi chef, make me a roll. Despite Keshini trying to convince me to try the rainbow roll or the California roll and a number of other colourfully named rolls, I opt for a plain salmon roll.

Thickly ignoring the condescending smiles, I struggle for a while with the chopsticks before giving it up, keep a paper napkin at the ready, and plunge the roll into my mouth. I keep chewing waiting for the raw fish to attack my taste buds, but the attack never comes. The salmon is sliced in such a way that it melts in my mouth.

The verdict - I just might try it again.

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