Fresh bamboo shoots are one of life’s great pleasures – and one of which the tinned version gives you absolutely no possible inkling. I had some for dinner tonight in Hangzhou, cooked with a little fine stock and a speckling of Jinhua ham. They were sublime, crisp and juicy, with a sweet-savoury taste of indescribable loveliness. They gave me particular pleasure today because I went out digging for bamboo shoots in the rain earlier this week. This is quite a challenging task for the novice: you have to look for a crack in the earth which betrays the presence of a growing shoot, and then dig the shoot out without damaging its ivory flesh.