A French Paradox touch for Christmas


Before talking about the joy and pleasure Christmas meals bring, I just wanted to share with you my latest contribution to Body+Soul published last Sunday – one of my calming tips that could help you relax and chill out during this crazy Christmas fever: 

calming tip_12.14

CHRISTMAS is one of the most important days in the French culinary tradition. 

It’s the perfect opportunity for the French to express their love for fresh real food and worship pleasure as the cornerstone of their approach to life and food.

The Christmas meal is pretty much the same on every single French table. As always in the French Paradox principles,  it is about quality before quantity: 

  • Appetizers served with Champagne
  • Entrees: oysters and/or foie gras
  • Main: dinde aux marrons (Turkey stuffed with chestnuts)
  • Sides: chestnuts, leafy greens
  • A plate of cheeses served with a HUGE green salad
  • Desserts: Buche de Noel (Christmas chocolate cake) 
  • Coffee (black)
  • Different great wines to match with each different dish

Today I will focus on the entrees, certainly my favourite part of the meal! 


Oysters, crispy white wine, lemon, vinegar and shallots, butter and wholemeal bread… Heaven!

Let’s talk about OYSTERS first!

Mireille Guiliano -the author of French Women Don’t Get Fat, which led the way to promote the French positive attitude to food and lifeMerci Mireille!–  says it very well in her very last book Meet Paris Oyster: “Being France, pleasure is probably the main reason for the love of the French for this unlikely mollusk that, at first glance, looks rather intimidating . The sensuous delight of eating a raw oyster with its cool flesh and briny juice—the very essence of the sea—is an experience second to none, especially when shared with another person.

And, as an added bonus, French women and men know that oysters are a nutritional powerhouse, with a huge dietary payoff for a minimum of calories. It’s one of the few foods you can eat more of, not less, as you age.
Oysters are one of the most well-balanced foods out there, containing mostly lean protein, a small amount of carbohydrate in the form of glycogen, and a small amount of fat. They are rich sources of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Full of vitamins and minerals, they are an especially excellent source of vitamins A, B1, B2, B12, C and D. Four to five oysters also provide your daily recommended levels of iron, copper, zinc, iodine, magnesium, calcium, manganese, selenium and phosphorus—all for a handful of calories. These nutrients in oysters help protect against anemia, strengthen the immune system, maintain healthy teeth and bones, and more. Not to mention the beauty benefits. Those dark under-eye circles (if we’re getting enough sleep) can come from iron or vitamin B12 deficiencies. Hair loss, which many women suffer, is most often due to insufficiencies in iron, zinc or protein. The delicious solution: oysters.

Throughout history, oysters have been rumored to be aphrodisiacs. While science hasn’t delivered compelling proof of this yet, I do know that an idea is a powerful stimulant. The hedonic experience of sharing oysters with your beloved, combined with a belief in their aphrodisiac power, may well stimulate the libido.”

Meet Paris Oyster is an engaging exploration of the Parisian love affair with the world’s most sensuous shellfish – and the good life in general. Part cultural journey, part cookbook, and part slice-of-life play, Guiliano introduces readers to the appetites (gastronomic and otherwise) of Paris and its people. Mireille Guiliano shares information on where to find the best oysters around the world, their substantial nutritional value, the best wine pairings with oysters, and a dozen mouthwatering recipes that will have readers craving, buying, and preparing oysters, with confidence, for themselves and their loved ones.

I’m sure you’ll love this new book by my favourite French Paradox pioneer.

AND NOW… FOIE GRAS! If, like me, you love foie gras, here are a few rules to follow by the letter to enjoy it the right way!

Foie gras served with salt, pepper and delicious bread...

Foie gras served with salt, pepper and delicious bread…

  • The foie gras has to have been exposed to cold air at least 30 minutes before eating.
  • Take it out of its can or jar, put all the duck fat in a bowl and place the foie gras on a plate.
  • If it was not in the fridge before, put the foie gras in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  • Then take it out and leave it until its temperature gets close to 10 degrees (it takes between 10 to 20 minutes depending on the temperature on the day).
  • During all this process, don’t EVER slice the foie gras as oxygen would make it lose its beautiful pink colour and alter the taste and the texture.
  • Add some natural sea salt flakes, pepper. Nothing else.
  • To slice it perfectly (always just before serving), put the blade of the knife in warm water so the foie gras won’t ‘break’ into pieces.
  • Serve with the best organic wholemeal toasted bread from your local baker. Foie gras deserves the best bread! 
  • Never discard the duck fat. Use it to roast vegetables… Super healthy and to die for!

Dessert wines used to be the wine of choice to accompany foie gras. These days, more and more people like it served with an excellent red or even with Champagne. Champagne goes definitely very well with this very delicate dish and with Christmas. For those who haven’t read it yet, find out more about my love for Champagne by simply clicking here.  Please enjoy with moderation.

Now I would like to hear from you. What is your favourite Christmas dish? Any family recipe you would like to share? 

Bon appetit and Joyeux Noel!


PS. If you haven’t subscribe to my FREE weekly nutrition tips yet, simply enter your first name and emial address in the blue banner at the bottom of the page. 

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