One doesn’t prepare or participate in a cursory Christmas in France. No indeed. Planning and preparation are taken verrrry seriously. Decorations are thought out in advance and the menu is a serious construction of courses.
On Friday when I was retrieving my order of three bouquets of white anemones at my florist, I was standing next to a woman who was picking up her massive absolutely gorgeous, frothy green-on-green-on green bouquet which included parrot tulips, berries, and various leaves (I’ll show you on my Instagram). That arrangement was for her Christmas eve table. She had requested a red and green assemblage for the 25th.
“I ordered everything at the beginning of December,” she told me. “I like to plan out and enjoy the process of decorating for the holidays.”
This, according to various mostly unscientific surveys, is an overview of what the majority of French families ate on Réveillon (the “awakening” late on the evening of the 24th often spilling over until the early hours of the 25th):
1.) The entrée, 70 percent chose foie gras. My French niece and her family opted for borscht and piroshkis (her grandmother was Russian). This is a marvelous recipe if you would like to try it.
2.) Capon or turkey stuffed with chestnuts tend to be the classic main course. We had coquilles Saint Jacques in a Champagne and crème fraîche sauce as our plat with a simple white rice.
3.) Then comes the cheese course, of course. We always have a salad with the fromages. This year we had on the platter: Comté, Roblechon, Sainte-Maure de Touraine chèvre and a roquefort.
4.) Chances are the dessert of choice was a bûche de Noël, Andrea ordered hers from the French pastry chef at the Sofitel in Chicago. We ordered ours from our local patissier.
Then there were the gifts they gave:
1.) Books, books, books. (In fact I received the above from Drea.)
2.) Smart phones. There was a barrage of TV ads for them wherein recipients seemed to be insanely happy to receive a telephone. The campaign must have worked.
3.) Chocolate. We’re in France.
4.) Perfume. Ditto, we’re in France.