When I was growing up, one of the most wonderful treats we had - birthdays, mothers day, fathers day, at christmas - was smoked mussels on toast.
Mushed, squished, spread on the toast. Munched down as quickly as possible, of course, whilst the toast was still hot.
It's not without its stigma. Lots of people consider it rather gross, especially for breakfast. At the boarding house I was yelled at because they do have a distinct smell. And in my house at uni, the boys were always complaining about finding half-empty tins of the stuff in the fridge.
I have never found smoked mussels in France (although I always look, just in case), and we always bring tins back from Australia with us. Care packages sent from Oz inevitably contain a couple of tins too, nestled amidst bags of Caramello Koalas and Cherry Ripes. We always pick some up when we're in the UK, and Sylvain brought a few tins back from his last trip to Sweden.
I'm so far away, in distance and years, but one single bite and I'm transported back to the farm of my childhood, my sister and I sitting on my parents bed (a backdrop of psychadelic 70's wallpaper), spreading crumbs all over the blankets.
My ultimate comfort food.