I thank them, sign their book, and smile. Because I know I’m lucky.
I was born into a family of immigrant entrepreneurs who spun gold from hardship.
I went to a public high school where I learned algebra, studied Chaucer, and read Langston Hughes. I attended a college where I sat side-by-side with brilliant young men and women who went on to launch equally brilliant careers.
I married a wonderful, beautiful woman who gave birth to six incredible kids. We built a new house and planted a garden. We owned a Porsche. We sold everything and moved to the inner city to work with young people. I remodeled and lived in three Victorian homes.
I made a lot of money. I lost a lot of money. I made some of it back.
I wrote a novel that didn’t sell and a cookbook that did. Now I’m writing this blog.
Yep. It was all a massive stroke of luck. I guess I was one of the ‘chosen few’.
I remember going to the Fireman’s Day Parade as a child in my hometown of Mamaroneck, New York in the early sixties. It was a big deal. Not like so many parades today - anemic and under-attended. This was the era of three TV stations, sandlot baseball, circus under a real tent, and pizza by the slice. My dad hoisted me on his shoulders to see the parade. I know I saw more than he did. But I’m convinced we both had a great time.
Flash-forward to the Mid-90’s. I took my wife and kids to Chicago. The Thanksgiving Day Parade. Crowds swarmed and jostled along the curb. The older kids nudged their way to the front. I hoisted my young son Aaron up on my shoulders so he could revel in a parade that I would never see. But I certainly enjoyed his squeals of laughter as floats, clowns and marching bands drifted by. Yep, I’m convinced we both had a great time.
Back in the day when I was raising money for non-profits, I once solicited a wealthy gentleman for a major gift. He responded, “Warren, when I win the lottery, I’ll give you that big gift.”
“Mike, you were born in America. You already won the lottery.”
He shook his head and chuckled. Then he whipped out a pen and signed the pledge card.
See, here’s the deal. If you live in America, you’ve already won the lottery. You’re already ‘lucky’. ‘Cuz someone, somewhere let you climb on their shoulders to see The Parade. I don’t care if you were raised in Beverly Hills or Bed-Stuy. We’re all standing on someone’s shoulders to see a parade that they could only hope to see. It might’ve been a mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, uncle, aunt, teacher, coach, neighbor, rabbi, or minister… Someone stooped low enough to allow us to scramble onto their shoulders to see something remarkable while we were perched up there.
Now it’s time for each one of us to lift someone up on our shoulders. To let them fully see what you and I have only caught a glimpse of.
This is how the world changes…..For the good.
I bet you’re wondering, ‘What does this have to do with jumbo shrimp?’
Easy. I’m gonna give you a recipe that’ll knock your socks off. But I have to let you in on a secret. It’s not mine.
I gleaned it when I climbed on the shoulders of a great New York chef who has long since passed away. He wrote it down for the likes of me to see and tweak. I’ve made it for family and friends for over 20 years. Now I’m passing it on to others.
I’m standing on his shoulders. Now pull out that skillet and climb up on mine.
SHRIMP SCAMPI for TWO
PREP: 10 minutes COOK: 10 minutes
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons minced parsley
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
Lemon slices to garnish (optional)
Parsley sprigs to garnish
1. Rinse shrimp and set aside.
2. Heat butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Sauté garlic 1 – 2 minutes or until softened (do not brown).
3. Raise heat to medium-high and add shrimp. Sauté until pink and firm, about 1 to 2 minutes. Turn shrimp and add parsley. Sauté for 1 – 2 minutes more. Stir in white wine and lemon juice then season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 30 seconds.
4. Garnish with lemon slices and parsley sprigs.
Serve with Rice Pilaf and Broccoli with Garlic Butter.