As the days of miracle and wonder fast approach it is remarkable how large looms the little known phenomenon that is toast sweat.
It is likely that few people have been troubled by this curious marvel which is created by the contact of hot toast with cool kitchen laminate.
I went many years before its existence was made known to me. When it was, I could hardly believe it and I still find it hard to appreciate its significance or even take it seriously.
This is a fundamental flaw in my make-up – as my wife will be quick to tell you.
Not many things irritate my lovely wife – but toast sweat is near the top of her short list.
Of course it is all down to up-bringing. My wife was very well brought up in Scotland. My early life was somewhat more casual. In the cut and thrust of competitive eating with an older sister, there was no time for niceties.
I like hot buttered toast and the secret to such a delicacy is to ensure the butter reaches the hot toast with all haste.
That means there can be no delay faffing about trying to find a suitable plate on which to place the toast. The action plan is simple. Hot toast emerges from toaster, butter is spread and the wondrous combination is wolfed down, with warm butter streaming down your chops, if you are lucky.
In Scotland, it appears, toast is laid carefully on a tea plate. The plate is taken to the table. The butter is then brought to the toast. A knob of butter is cut free from the block and deposited on the tea plate next to the toast.
A smaller knob is sliced from the larger knob and spread carefully and evenly on the face of the waiting toast.
Grace is recited and, for all I know, a quick rendition of Scotland the Brave is played on the bagpipes, a haggis is presented and everyone else is asked if they would like some toast.
I exaggerate, slightly, but the end result is always the same – cold buttered toast.
It seems remarkable that a nation that invented deep-fried Mars bars, rowies, butteries and warm oat mush in water with salt, should forgo the delight that is hot toast simply because of the risk of a slight film of condensation left on a kitchen work surface. I have tried to explain this sad state of affairs but my pleas are invariably brushed aside with an exasperated "Hen's teeth, are ye glaikit?" (a Scottish phrase that lacks all resonance when translated into English but you get the drift).
In my wife's defence it seems that the "sweat", when mixed with crumbs that naturally follow from toast being spread with butter, forms a sticky concoction that if allowed to congeal, can stain and spoil the pristine faux marble worktops of our still new kitchen.
The problem is that there is little room for compromise if I am to enjoy one of life's great delicacies. All I can do is keep a damp cloth close by and use the hand not directing toast to mouth to wipe up the sweat. It's not easy – but it's worth it!