"Ilove it," Claude Bosi tells me.
"It's just fantastic." We're drinking early-morning coffees in the understated dining room of Hibiscus, Bosi's two-Michelin-starred restaurant in Mayfair, and the 40-year-old chef is being effusive about the culinary joys of Christmas. What's curious is that he's not talking about the sophisticated gourmet traditions that bring families together during the festive period in his native Lyon, the great food capital of France. No, what Bosi has in mind is the common-or-garden British Christmas, with turkey and ham and all the trimmings, plum pudding and a big, boozy sherry trifle.
In France, Christmas Eve is the main event and in the Bosi household, when Claude was a boy, his mother would serve up feasts for the extended family. "We'd start with seafood – oysters, a lobster bisque. Then a terrine de foie gras. Afterwards we'd have fish with pilaf rice. Then a little break, followed by a poultry dish. Then cheese, then a bûche de noël for pudding."
Christmas Day, positively frugal by comparison, would begin with a breakfast of champagne and oysters, followed by a lunch of soup, roast beef, smoked salmon, cheese, and a big salad "to make you feel good about yourself".
When Bosi moved to England 15 years ago, he discovered that British Christmases offered a welcome respite from the culinary ultra-marathons at home. "The British way is more chilled out. Instead of a big meal on Christmas Eve, you have a few snacks in a bar with your friends."
Family is still central to festivities on the day. "My daughter's just turned seven so is still excited about Father Christmas. After an early start, we'll have smoked salmon on toast for breakfast, and then all hands on deck prepping lunch. I'll make soup and sometimes a prawn cocktail. Then turkey and root vegetables for roasting."
When I point out that it's unusual for a food-loving Frenchman to embrace the British way of eating, his response is pragmatic. "If you move to a country, you have to adapt to that country. Some of my friends tell me I'm more English than they are. I love Christmas pudding with brandy butter – and if the pudding's on fire, even better!"
Surely, though, he can't resist adding a few Gallic touches? "No, no," he insists. "How do you say in this country? If it's not broken, don't fix it. And you know what? The food at Christmas here is fantastic."
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