French Christmas Party Food

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Trust the French to have a million different types of Christmas dishes. But all jokes aside, what does constitute a typical Christmas dinner? After midnight mass on Christmas Eve, the French gather to eat a feast called le réveillon in the French language which basically means Christmas Eve in English. And boy, is it a feast!

It consists of oysters, snails, seafood, smoked salmon, caviare  the works basically! Following that, they bring out the bird. Most popularly the French eat a goose for their Christmas dinner, which happens at around 1 am – not very good for the waistline some would say.

But beside this typical Christmas eve dinner two-course meal, the French are able to offer us many many more hours of eating in the form of a third course. A third course multiplied by three. They have thirteen desserts that are classical for the Christmas party. They are as follows (though the choices may vary):

  • Walnut
  • Quince Cheese
  • Almond
  • Raisin
  • Calisson
  • Nougat blanc
  • Nougat noir
  • Apple
  • Pear
  • Orange
  • Winter Melon
  • and lastly, Fougasse (Provencal bread).

Not much of a desert you may think; quantity over quality here it seems. But the 13 deserts are symbolic and they are also only confined to the provance region. They represent Jesus Christ and the twelve apostles. They are traditionally set out on the 24th and remain on the table until December 27. Why? Ask a Frenchman. If it is anything like the Bulgarian tradition, then the food is left out for the dead to feast. Though something tells me the French are not this superstitious.

The more common dessert is the Yule log desert which looks like a log. Creative. It is known in the French language as Bûche de Noël and is basically a type of roulette filled with butter-cream or booze or coffee or whatever you would like. Tasty tasty.

Either way, Christmas in France seems delicious; what with all the oysters, wine, cheese and geese – not to mention the THIRTEEN deserts, all at 1 am in the morning? Sounds like fun to me.

If you would like to learn more learn more about French Christmas traditions please click here.


5 thoughts on “French Christmas Party Food

    LoveHoundUK said:
    December 4, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Living in France for the past 22 years, this is what would be classed as a typical dinner but never happens !
    We generally have a meal in the evening of the 24th at around 8pm eating until about 11:30pm and waiting for midnight. It will include some things such a oysters, smoked salmon and some kind of bird or lamb depending on the different regions of France.

    No one eats until about 1:30am it would be too difficult to do.

    Regarding the 13 desserts, this is not the typical dessert for a Christmas meal, which would most probably be a Yule log either buttercream or an iced cream yule log. The 13 desserts are a local tradition in the Provence region.

    Over the years, I have to admit that there isn’t really a Christmas tradition in France unless in regions such a Alsace Lorraine. The tradition of eating on the evening of the 24th is quickly becoming less with the main meal now taking place at lunchtime on the 25th.

      Hristina H Vasileva responded:
      December 4, 2012 at 2:22 pm

      Hey LoveHound, thanks for your feedback. Do you think it’s a bad thing that French Christmas tradition is becoming less prominent? I realised that about the Yule Log but it somehow disappeared in my post. Have re-edited now. Thanks for reading!! Hristina

    LoveHoundUK said:
    December 4, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Hey, In fact no not a bad thing, I just think that as times move on, people don’t really want to eat so late and therefore there is a trend to move the whole meal thing to the 25th too. With the meal on the 24th a little lighter. I came from the UK where we would eat big meals on 25th and 26th so I suppose in France we do it 24th and 25th. Thanks for adding about the yule log.
    It was interesting to read. Thanks for sharing

      Hristina H Vasileva responded:
      December 4, 2012 at 4:03 pm

      No worries lovehound. Will be looking forward to your next posts! WIll it be a British or a French Xmas this year? Hristina

    LoveHoundUK said:
    December 4, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    This year it’s French I wont be back in the UK until early January.
    I ll let you know what ends up on the menu 🙂

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