Traditional French Christmas Dinner

by Sylviane Nuccio on December 15, 2011

in Facts About France, France Travel

I have to admit that what I miss the most if I think about France is not the beautiful landscapes, it’s not the language, it’s not sitting at a Paris terrace café on a sunny spring afternoon and it’s not even my own home town.

What I miss the most when I think about France is French food.

Anyone born and raised here wouldn’t miss and not even know about some of the food that we can find in France, and therefore, never miss it.  However,  for those of us who have grown up eating some of such delights of the palate that consist of the many types of foods that are found in France, sometimes, not being able to run to the store and grab such food can be really tough, indeed!

And I am just talking about every day food, here.  When it comes to holiday foods, it just gets even better, and we can indulge in the finest and tastiest meal of the year at that time.

When it comes to traditional French Christmas dinner I can remember the extravagant dozen courses that such dinner included at my house. Actually it is called the Christmas feast.

On Christmas day, at my house, we probably ingested more calories in that one meal than some people would in a diet week.  But, then again, Christmas dinner in France is no dieter’s dinners.  If anything, it’s the most festive meal where you can eat all your favorite foods in just one day.

What is a Typical and Traditional French Christmas Dinner?

The traditional Christmas dinner starts on Christmas Eve at dinner time.  Most French households have a  copious  Christmas Eve dinner which traditionally may includes what we call the 13 desserts de Noël (the 13 Christmas desserts). Other foods served on Christmas Eve may include shrimps, find patés, foie gras (fatten goose liver paté), ousters, chocolate bouchées and other canapés.

In my house, Christmas Eve dinner was serve like a banquet where we would grab a piece of everything and eat it at our leisure while talking and having a good time. These were ones of the best moments of my life.

Of course, with the food, white and red wine as well as Champagne would be served.

The Christmas Day Dinner

Now, what we call Christmas dinner in this part of the world is really Christmas lunch in France starting by 1 PM.  French people, being bigger on lunch than dinner.

Christmas dinner (lunch) in my household started with two appetizers which usually consisted of both raw ousters (ousters are almost never eaten cooked in France) and the famous escargots de Bourgogne which stuffed snail shells with butter, parsley and garlic.  The stuffed escargots (snails) are baked in the oven for about 5 minutes.

Then, came the main course which usually consisted of a roasted turkey accompanied by lama beans, green peas, diced potatoes and cooked chestnuts.

Green lettuce is then served as intermittence before the cheeses.   Usually a “plateau de fromages”a full tray of 5 to 7 different cheeses is passed to each guest who cut their chosen piece with a special cheese knife.

La Bûche de Noël

Then, the bûche de Noël is served.  You can actually find this type of cake in some grocery stores in the US.

The bûche is a flat sponge cake which we cover with a chocolate mixed cream and roll up to form a wood log called “bûche” in French.

Then the bûche is covered with chocolate icing and decorated to resemble a log.  La bûche de Noël is usually served with Champagne.

After a little while coffee and liqueur can be served with chocolates or truffles or both.

Christmas was one of the best time of year for me.  I always enjoyed the ambiance, the food, the family reunion and of course the wonderful gifts.

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About Sylviane

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