Christmas is a time for nuts, specifically nuts in shells. We eat shelled ones such as peanuts and cashews all year round, but at Christmas it’s good to sit by the fire to roast chestnuts and shell walnuts, hazel nuts and Brazil nuts. I had to import the last of those this year because of EU regulations.

The Brazil Nuts Emergency Control Regulations (which implement an EU Directive) require each batch of unshelled Brazil nut shells to be tested for aflatoxins (a carcinogenic agent). Importers are unwilling to incur costs arising from these tests and any subsequent destruction of affected nuts, so no longer import the nuts in shells.”

Sympathetic friends sent me some Brazils from abroad, which is why they are in my bowl.