weird French Christmas traditional food-Bourgogne snails in garlic parsley butter sauce
French Lifestyle

5 Weird French Christmas Food Traditions To Try or Not!

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What do the French eat at Christmas? Well, In France, Christmas is a time for family, friends, and of course, food like anywhere! From the savory to the sweet, there’s something for everyone. However, though French cuisine is famous for its fancy delicacies worldwide, you may find some French Christmas traditional foods weird and repulsive. As a brought-up French-Italian, none of these French Christmas gourmet foods seem odd to me (except for one, read further below…) but I know how bizarre they are to Americans, for instance.

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Here are 5 French Christmas Traditional Foods that You May Find Weird (or not)

1. FOIE GRAS (fatty liver), the controversial French Christmas food staple

weird french Christmas food-a festive plate with foie gras on toasts

Foie Gras is the number one French delicacy that is present on +90% of French Christmas tables. It is a culinary tradition that can be dated back to the Egyptians. They discovered that geese naturally stuffed themselves before migrating. In fact, wild geese instinctively store extra fat in their liver for their long adventure. Once geese were domesticated, they were forced to eat so as to fatten their livers, and their “foie gras” became a widespread delicacy.

Today, animal rights movements fight against this fattening geese practice because of considered brutality towards the animals. For this reason, some countries ban foie gras. While the French people are far from giving up on their foie gras, most recently, even some French cities like Lyon decided to ban foie gras on cruelty grounds.

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2. FRESH RAW OYSTERS

strange French Christmas cuisine-a plate of fresh raw oysters on ice with lemon wedges and hot sauce

The French love raw oysters and it is the number two most consumed food during Christmas. Not only the oysters are raw but still alive (that’s a sign of their freshness). We simply serve them with fresh lemon or shallot vinaigrette. Oysters, like foie gras, have been around in France for thousands of years.

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3. CAVIAR (sturgeon fish eggs)

odd French Christmas gastronomy-caviar canapes

Real caviar is a pricey delicacy that you find on wealthy French tables. It is unfertilized and salt-cured eggs of the sturgeon fish that we spread on little toasts. As you can imagine, most of the French cannot afford caviar, so instead, they buy lumpfish eggs colored in red or black which are less expensive.

Only sturgeons’ eggs are considered authentic caviar.

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4. ESCARGOTS DE BOURGOGNE (Burgundy snails)

bizarre French Christmas food culture- escargots in a garlic, white wine, parsley, and butter sauce

It is likely the most known gross-looking food in French gastronomy. You probably imagine a bunch of slimy, dirty snails moving all over your plate… No, we rinse them several times before cooking them. We prepare them with this delicious parsley garlic white wine buttery sauce!

We don’t eat escargots every day but just on special occasions, especially during Christmas dinner as an appetizer. The best ones come from the region of Burgundy (Bourgogne). You can find them, already prepared in any supermarket. You just need to put them in the oven and voilà, bon appétit!

Also, I don’t know why the French people are labeled as snail-eaters since the Italians eat them too?! Italians even eat a certain type of snail raw and alive! I remember my “nonna” making me wash (over and over again) the snails she bought live and then cooked them in tomato sauce.

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5. FROG LEGS

weird French Christmas traditional dish-frog legs fried with garlic and herbs and lemon

Now, this used to be to me the most bizarre stereotypical French food: frog legs! That is because growing up, my parents who were Italians, never cooked them. I tried them for the first time when I was in my twenties. They actually taste like chicken.

I also recently found out that frog legs pie was a popular French Christmas dish. This one still sounds really weird to me. It is filled with a creamy mushroom sauce and of course frog legs.

However, like foie gras, frog leg consumption is also a subject of controversy because of animal cruelty and the frog population being pushed to extinction. Frog legs are not only popular in France, but also in Asia, South America, and the USA.

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So, would you try any of these French Christmas treats?

From raw oysters to snails of burgundy, I understand how disgusting some French Christmas customary foods can indeed be to foreigners. However, you shouldn’t judge what it’s on your plate by its looks… haha

I am curious to know if you’ve had them already. Let me know and share your comments below, please!!

Also, if you’ve enjoyed reading this article, why not share and pin it for later?!

My content may contain affiliate links for products I use and love. What does that mean? It won’t cost you anything. If you subscribe or make a purchase after clicking on one of these links, I’ll earn some money which will help me pay for the cost of maintaining my website and writing more helpful content. Thank you for your support!

 

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6 Comments

  1. Hi,
    As a Belgian, I am very familiar with these foods, and I had several of them as a child, growing up. My father was a gourmet, so we often had these foods at home, and we also traveled to France over 10 times. They are indeed delicious, they just seem weird but “weirdness” is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it?
    However, today I know more about it, and it is true that foie gras comes from extreme cruelty and I would never touch it again. I sign all petitions to call for bans of fois gras and I hope that one day it will be banned. French culture or not, cultural traditions should not be linked to cruelty.
    Same for frog legs. I heard that the legs are ripped from the frogs while they are alive. I can’t imagine anything more gruesome. I’ve also seen pictures of live frogs hanging from ropes at a market in Saigon…
    I love food and delicacies, but I stopped eating the food that comes from cruelty. It’s a good thing that more and more people are waking up to it, as you mentioned in your article.

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Hello Christine, I totally hear you! Thank you for your comment!

  2. Hello,

    I certainly don’t want to say anything negative, and certainly not about French cuisine, which is very renowned all over the world. Yes, also here with me in Belgium.

    Many restaurants here are focused on French gastronomy only. As far as I’m concerned, out of the 5 recipes proposed there is only one that I like and that is the “Frog Legs”.

    I think I’m too picky, but that’s because I know someone who is now seriously ill after eating oysters, goose liver, or duck liver, I don’t like it at all (and as an animal lover I’m against it), I can’t say much about caviar, and I think snails are disgusting.

    But your site does look very appetizing and you can’t fault the design.

    Best regards,

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Hello Peter, thank you for your comment! Yes, I understand your concern about getting sick from eating oysters! My brother who loves them, cannot have them anymore either. I also agree with you about animal cruelty. We are getting more and more conscious about it and that is a good thing!

  3. Wow! these dishes are very unique. Up until now, I only thought that Asians have the most bizarre food tradition in the world, I never knew French folks have some too. I didn’t also know that oysters can be eaten raw. It must really be special to be eaten raw. But what makes it special anyway? I like that food is a way of exploring other people’s cultures and traditions around the world. I can understand why some practices have to be banned on cruelty grounds against animals. Just like the “foie gras” meal you mentioned which is an old french traditional meal that involves the deliberate fattening of geese in order to fatten their liver. This I believe goes against today’s animal rights.

    Cheers.

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Hello Femi, you are right, many think that Asians eat the weirdest foods but that isn’t true. The French can be weird too to some other cultures. Thank you for your comment, appreciate it!

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