Updated: Dec 14, 2021
It was a late December afternoon in eastern France, and Alfred and his brother had just visited a neighborhood barbershop upon their mother’s urges. Christmas filled the air of their Alsatian city, and these two young boys skipped down the avenues, beaming with excitement over the forthcoming holiday.
Unexpectedly, a grand staircase caught the boys’ attention. Gazing up, their eyes feasted on the delightful windows of a patisserie, festooned with sugary goodness for the holidays. Without uttering a word, the boys quickly counted their coins. Surely there was enough for an impulsive treat!
The two bounded up the steps into a wonderland of pastries, cakes, and chocolate. Croissants, madeleines, cannelés, macarons, and palmiers adorned the pastry cases—all impeccably displayed to showcase their respective splendor. Assessing their options, the two abruptly discovered a critical fact. Handcrafted pastries made from the finest ingredients are quite expensive on an 8-year-old’s budget.
With pockets emptied and money combined, the boys’ settled on purchasing one perfect chocolate-glazed éclair with chocolate filling, the most modest of all the offerings. While it wouldn’t be easy, they agreed to split their pastry into two precisely equal portions. Then, nodding and laughing, the boys raced to the counter.
“Une éclair, s’il vous plait,” as they placed their money on the counter.
“Une éclair pour deux garcons?” the boulnagère replied.
“Oui, monsieur. C’est tout l’argent que nous avons,” pointing to their meager pile of coins.
“Et bien, vous avez de la chance mes petit amis. Aujourd’hui, ces éclairs sont au prix de deux pour un,” the kindly boulnagère announced with a wink.
“Two for the price of one! What luck!” Alfred exulted, handing the complimentary pasty to his brother before focusing on his own.
Honestly, this memory still lives large in Alfred’s mind. He fondly recalls trying to extract the crème pâtisseriè from the pâte à choux before devouring the tender, chocolate-glazed outside. And truthfully, the humble éclaire remains his favorite pastry to this day.
It may seem preposterous to think this occurrence set a young Alfred on his life-long culinary journey. However, when you taste his culinary creations today, you will come to believe that little acts of Christmas kindness have enduring effects for those on the receiving end of generosity.
Happy Holidays from Chef Alfred & everyone at Schilling&Co!