What do children eat for their school Christmas dinner in France? My boys both had their festive Christmas meals last week and I was blown away by their menus, particularly at the lycée. I hadn’t thought ahead and was frustrated that I hadn’t asked them to take photographs so this post has no photos of their actual meals…perhaps I’ll be more organised next year. But in the meantime just take a look at their menus to have an idea of what kids eat at school for Christmas lunch.
The Primary School Christmas Lunch
I took the photo above early this morning of the menu on the noticeboard, covered in dew with trees reflecting in the glass and the sun coming up. It’s not the clearest, but I quite like the effect. Here’s what the primary school kids ate:
Saumon frais – cold fresh salmon – for entrée, followed by filet de boeuf, poëlée St Sylvestre, pommes duchesse – beef filet with mixed seasonal vegetables including mushrooms and duchesse potatoes for main course, followed by fromage – cheese which was camembert apparently. Dessert was assiette gourmande – a selection of mini cakes including warm melting chocolate cake, apricot tart and caramel icecream bomb. Finally there were clementines and each child received a Santa hat, a chocolate Father Christmas and a book! (Picture below).
The High School (Lycée) Christmas Lunch
If you thought the primary menu was good, just look what the high school kids got to eat. The menu below reads like a proper, classy restaurant. I’m under no illusion that the level of cooking and the quality of ingredients would be as good as in a top restaurant, this is after all a school canteen, but just the names of each dish alone show an enormous respect for, and interest in, food. The children can usually choose 4 different things from the self-service selection, but for the Christmas meal they were told they could take whatever they wanted!
This is what my 15 year old son took: mousse de canard – a soft duck paté – and verrines de crevettes en cocktail – little glass of prawn cocktail for entrée (yes 2 starters), followed by sauté de cerf aux pleurotes – venison with oyster mushrooms – and trio de riz – 3 types of rice. He then chose a selection of cheeses finished off with bûche pâtissière – yule log.
The menu was designed to be 4 courses: starter, main, cheese and dessert. As is quite normal in France the cheese course can include yogurt as a substitute for cheese, in other words, it’s a dairy course. My son enjoys his food and managed to have a 5 course meal. They were given an extra hour to eat all that! I haven’t translated all the dishes but suffice it to say the menu includes scallops, quail and hake with lobster sauce as well as tropical fruit with whipped cream.
There’s a great deal to say about school dinners in France, enough for another post in its own right another time, but I think you’ll agree that, with menus like this, you can see how culturally important food is to the French. And I think it’s wonderful that young children are expected and encouraged to appreciate all sorts of foods from a young age; nothing is too sophisticated for them.
And just to make it clear, both schools are local state schools, not private.
Did your child have a festive meal at school? If so what did they eat? Or do you remember what your school Christmas dinner was like? It would be interesting to see what differences there are around the world.
Merry Christmas and bon appétit!
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