Have you ever wished you could order a side of danger with your deep-dish pizza? A(n even greater) death wish with your suspiciously greasy Velveeta Cheese fudge? A close call with your Cincinnati chili? Well, you (probably) midwestern reader, you're in luck. The Cannibal Sandwich is one of Wisconsin's favorite, and most dangerous, seasonal snacks.
Composed of a metric crapton of raw, ground beef, seasoned with salt and pepper, topped with onions and, of course, two slices of bread, the erm, unique sandwich is a Cheesehead Christmas delicacy -- and also a pretty major health hazard, according to Wisconsin's Department of Health.
"Time for our annual reminder that there's one #holiday tradition you need to pass on: raw meat sandwiches, sometimes called Tiger Meat or Cannibal Sandwiches," the agency wrote on Facebook last week. "Many Wisconsin families consider them to be a holiday tradition, but eating them poses a threat for Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Campylobacter and Listeria bacteria that can make you sick. (And, no, it doesn't matter where you buy your beef!) Remember, ground beef should ALWAYS be cooked to an internal temperature of 160° F."
I never knew it was possible to be a party pooper in a year distinctively without parties, but I guess here we are -- if you like parties rife with food-borne illnesses, that is. The dish, which has long been a staple at Badger-state holiday gatherings over the years, is no new gimmick, with deep roots dating back to some of Wisconsin's early Northern European immigrants.
"Being an extremely agricultural state, it is one of the necessities that you always had," Milwaulkee-based chef, Justin Carlisle, who says he grew up with the delicacy, told Wisconsin Public Radio last year. "It's kind of like making cheese in Wisconsin, like you always had dairy and you always had meat."
Since then, the sandwich has grown incredibly polarizing, with some hardcore Wisconsinites swearing by it, and others shuddering at its mere mention. However, in recent years, the dish has made a resurgence "People now are like, 'Oh gee, I remember when Grandma made this, and how'd you do it?'" Milwaukee meat market manager, Jeff Zupan, explained. "The inspiration for cooking again is coming back, I think people are starting to decide that they want something better."
While great for Wisconsin heritage, the cannibal sandwich's reemergence has a few drawbacks -- namely, (and most obviously) a few nasty cases of foodborne illnesses. "Since 1986, eight outbreaks have been reported in Wisconsin linked to eating a raw ground beef dish, including a large Salmonella outbreak involving more than 150 people during December 1994," according to the state's website.
Yikes. So reader, as we embark on this strange, unprecedented holiday season, do yourself a favor -- maybe steer clear of the raw meat. We already have one public health crisis, we don't need a second.
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