By Haylie Fehl
Meals occupy a central place in French social and family life. Lunch and dinner usually consist of several course: an appetizer, the main course, a simple green salad, cheese, and dessert. A special meal may have as many as nine courses. As an appetizer, the French might eat cold cuts, vegetables in a vinaigrette sauce, or soup. The main course usually consists of meat or seafood. The French eat a wide variety of meats, fowl, and game such as duck, goose, guinea hen, and rabbit. Potatoes are very common, and you may be served a variety of vegetables like endives, turnips, leek, or eggplant. For dessert, fresh fruit is often served. Pastries or ice cream are traditionally reserved for special occasions. The evening meal is generally lighter and often meatless. Eggs are eaten at dinner, but rarely at breakfast.
In France, a meal is often a way to celebrate friendship or a special occasion. The New Year's dinner is traditionally spent with friends, while birthday and Christmas dinners are usually family celebrations when people exchange gifts and cards. Young people often receive a small gift on their saint's day as well.