(April 19, 2019) Chance is a variable of many degrees and the mysteries associated with it can take many unexpected turns.  

As I continue the path of being, I find my reality is influenced by impressions of the past. 

That being said, one glorious evening took me by surprise and brought about a flood of fond memories. Allow me to explain.

Decades ago, I took to the camera and modeled locally and in New York. I was chosen to be the mermaid at the opening of the National Aquarium in which Mayor Schaefer took his infamous dip with the seals.

One particular photograph made its way to the front page of newspapers across the country and continually reappeared in Baltimore publications. 

Fate cannot always be predicted; I had no idea this picture would eventually grace the pages of Maryland history.

Recently, I received an invitation from the President and CEO John Racanelli, the Board Chair Marc Bunting, and the Board of Directors of the National Aquarium, plus the benefactors Dorothy and Henry Rosenberg, for the unveiling of Schaefer’s Splash by Joseph Sheppard, commemorating Mayor William Donald Schaefer’s iconic 1981 seal pool plunge.

Yes, I knew I was a part of the celebrated photo but had no idea what the unveiling entailed. But I was flattered to be a part of the festivities and was able to bring a guest. Before I knew it, mom and I were on our way to the National Aquarium. 

Successful entertaining is predicated on details. From the moment we stepped out of the cab, live music filled the air and it became apparent this celebration was given the utmost consideration.

When I introduced myself, the red-carpet treatment unfolded and for one evening I felt like a star. We were showed the way to the bar where a flow of delectable hors d’oeuvres passed our way.   

I relish the art of entertaining and take every opportunity to learn and critique. I had been dieting for two weeks and forgot the meaning of self-control. 

The appetizers were delicious and cooked to perfection. Mother and I were torn between the scallops tossed in a miso glaze and shrimp presented with a lemon aioli. In the end, we agreed the scallops took first place.

I was also impressed that the chef followed protocol and took in consideration some of the guests might be vegetarians. The caramelized beet crostinis were divine and added a festive color to the menu.

Fabulous food is imperative when planning a special event and the servers are an integral part if success is to be achieved. 

Professional is mandatory but personality is a must. Their charming ways added to a night I will never forget.

The time had come and mother and I were escorted to a section of reserved seats. John gave me fair warning that I would be introduced. I was overwhelmed by the warm reception. 

Mom was in her glory; I just wish dad could have been there. I have been told that even when our loved ones are no longer with us, their spirits are by our side. If this is the case, I know dad would have been very proud. 

This girl who resides in Ocean City had no idea she would become a part of a 15-foot-wide by 6-foot-high permanent oil painting that depicted the iconic photo just inside the aquarium’s main entrance.

Sometimes an experience is so mesmerizing that you cannot take it in at that moment. The next day as we were preparing to go home and I said to mom, “I feel my carriage has turned back into a pumpkin.”

Mother did not respond right away but diligently chose her words. “This is true. But just remember, you are an eternal part of the National Aquarium, and that is an incredible honor.”

Easter is upon us and creativity should be in your basket of goodies. Garlicky shrimp with colorful mango salsa is a mouth-watering way to start off your meal. This dish can be served as an amuse bouche or an appetizer. Happy Easter!

* If you would like to read about the event, google - Ed Gunts, Baltimore’s Newest Work of Art Celebrates “Schaefer’s Splash.”

Garlicky Shrimp with  Mango Salsa

For the Shrimp:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

¼ cup finely chopped cilantro leaves

juice of 1 large lime

kosher salt to taste 

For the Mango Salsa:

1 cup finely diced mango

1/3 cup finely diced avocado

½ cup finely diced orange bell pepper

1 large Roma tomato, seeded, core removed and finely diced

½ to 1 jalapeno, seeded, stem removed, and finely diced

¼ cup finely diced red onion

¼ cup finely chopped cilantro

juice of 1 large lime

kosher salt to taste

1.  For the shrimp: heat the oil in a large pan over high heat. Add the shrimp and cook just until they are pink and opaque. Season with salt.

2.  Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes, constantly stirring the shrimp so the garlic does not burn.

3.  Stir in the lime juice and cilantro and mix well. Remove the shrimp from the hot pan so they do not overcook.

4.  For the mango salsa: Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly. 

5.  Combine the shrimp and salsa ingredients. The shrimp and salsa can be served by themselves, with crackers, or with scoop chips.

Secret Ingredient – Destiny. “Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” 

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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