Typical French Christmas dinner

December 10th 2014
By: Melanie Hollidge

The French celebrate their Christmas on the eve of the 24th December, holding a UK type Christmas Eve celebration. They eat a large feast with several courses (sometimes up to 15) and open presents which are traditionally placed in a shoe rather than a stocking.
The Christmas feast usually amounts to several courses all being served up around a large family sized table. People who don’t own a large table often take down internal doors for their feast and lay them out on trestle tables, anything really goes, as long as everyone can sit down and eat. As it takes such a long time to eat children are allowed to leave the table between each course, and sit down each time a new course is served up.
Aperitifs such as the traditional dry Saucisson (dry, cured sausage), Pulpe (Octopus), mussels will be served with a drink such as beer, wine, Muscat (a sweet wine). Mis en buche, these if you are not familiar with the term are mouth- sized snacks, normally packed full of flavour.
One of the starters will be a meat course, such as Foie Gras, served with fig jam and ginger cake – a delicious combination if you haven’t tried it before. Paté, Campagne (course country paté) or Foréstier (Mixture of tradional pate and mushrooms) sometimes served up on toasts or on canapés.
Following on from the first course they will normally have a seafood course, which can include Saint Jacques in a wine sauce or Mussels (however the latter are traditionally served on New Years Eve). Gambas, Salmon are also served traditionally.  All of these meals are usually served with plenty of French sauces such as a sauce de Champagne, Champignon and so forth. This will normally be served with a White Chardonnay, the hint of oak complements the subtle taste of the fish perfectly.  
Then you will normally have a meat course which can comprise of duck breasts, served with a sugary sauce such as a plum or fig, a large Capon chicken (much the same as in the UK) and beef. Unlike in the UK where we have a wide selection of vegetable sides dishes, the French tend to have a choice of one or two, including a potato dish such as potato gratin or Dauphinoise.  Accompanied by a dry, fully bodied wine.
A cheese course is then served before the dessert, served with a delicious selection of French breads. Onion marmalade and fig jam is a perfect accompaniment.
Then for pudding they will normally have a Buche, a type of Christmas log, but this will normally be in the form of a large ice cream roll, called a Buche Glacee. Served with Champagne or a sweet wine, whilst chanting 'Bon Fete.'