There are some things I don’t eat, but almost nothing that I won’t try. I’ve heard enough about the tinned fermented surströmming from Sweden to put me right off. A friend of mine, who has eaten the most unusual things when in the African bush tells me that he thought it was “okay” but that his labrador took one sniff and ran away howling.

Things that I have tried but now avoid include kidneys, liver other than calves’ (and even then, reluctantly), sardines (enjoyed in childhood but no longer) and tripe. I tried to like drisheen but without success; I run a mile from the stuff these days.

But, yes, I am a trier. Many years ago, when the family and I stopped off for a wonderful 48 hours in Hong Kong, I was persuaded to try chickens’ feet that had been steamed and then served with a deeply savoury black bean sauce – a fine example of fermentation being a good thing when it comes to many foods.

I was impressed by the gelatinous, slippery nature of the feet – more like ankles, if you can imagine chickens having such appendages – and a certain inherent richness. The texture is something that I would have shied away from when I was a child but my children, all well under 16 at the time, loved them. Even the one who still refuses to try an oyster. Our Chinese host was very impressed with their skill in using chopsticks (less so with mine) which they had honed from the time they were very little, usually in the wonderful China Sichuan restaurant when it was still in Kilmacud.

I took to prawn Cheung fun immediately – prawns wrapped in folds of decidedly slippery rice noodle sheets – although eating them with chopsticks is quite a challenge to someone more used to cutlery. It is one of the most comforting dim sum dishes for me, ideal when my tummy needs soothing and settling.

The slipperiness of long-cooked pork belly, like you get in some Chinese hot pots, is quite different and depends more on fat than on the connective tissue you get in the completely fat-free feet of chickens. But it shares a certain comforting richness that really does it for me, ideally when sharing as a little goes a long way.

A long time after my first encounter in Hong Kong I was eating in Yautatcha, the Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant in London’s Soho with my old friend, superstar chef Richard Corrigan, and I suggested the chickens’ feet. It was his first time trying them and I still remember his delighted cry of “Chinese crubeens!” That’s how I think of them now but I will admit that eating involves spitting out a whole lot of tiny bones.

There are lots of Chinese ways of cooking and serving crubeens, as we in Ireland call pig’s trotters, but I always prefer the French classic approach: simmer your crubeens until they fall apart, drain, cool and remove the bones. Then slather them in Dijon mustard and cover in buttered breadcrumbs before popping them into a very hot oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Heaven!