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I estimate that in the weeks leading to Christmas I will munch my way through about 10 different mince pries, not because I have suddenly embraced high calorie foods with abandon, or that I have a particularly sweet tooth, in fact, I’ll let you into a secret, I don’t even know if I like mince pies all that much.

No, this is an experiment, undertaken by the legal managers, to taste leading supermarket mince pies, in what we have affectionately labelled “piemas”. We are diligently grading the pies on their taste, depth of filling and the crumbliness of the pastry. Those with an absolute aversion to mince pies may opt for an alternative fruit pie instead.

Mince pies are steeped in history and whether you love them or loathe them are comfortingly traditional at this time of year. The mixture of dried fruits and spices brought back from foreign shores must have been an explosion of flavour and sweetness in a primarily bland diet. Later the humble mince pie was to be used as a reminder of the exotic gifts brought by the magi to the baby Jesus.  More recently, each year we see celebrity chefs all trying to put a new slant on a well known recipe.

Love ’em or loath ‘em,  mince pies are evocative of Christmas, the expensive ones that offer a great deal, but are a little disappointing, while the rushed cheaper versions surprising you with the right balance of comfort and sweetness, haven’t we all had Christmas’ like that?

Whatever your opinion on mince pies,  may your Christmas have the right blend of sugar and spice, with traditions old and new.

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