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The Cold Filtered Ramblings of Gene Mueller

Defending the delicious

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It's not a stag party without it.  For some people, it's as much a holiday tradition as mistletoe and drunken Uncle Frank's uncomfortable Christmas night commentary.

It's the cannibal sandwich (tiger meat, if you will, or steak tartare to the more refined) and state health/dietary nannies are at war with it.

The warning about the perils of dining on raw beef served on cocktail bread with a slice of onion and a blend of salt and pepper comes after--wait for it--all of four people got e-coli from dining on meat from a single provider at several gatherings last year.  The state also reports 13 "likely" cases.

That's it? 

Granted, the cannibal sandwich isn't as popular as it was back in the day,  but really?  One bad sample of meat and we're getting told to give up a Wisconsin staple? 

Raw beef and onions were almost always on the table when my relatives got together around Christmas and even after the occasional social Sunday at the nearest local bowling alley.  Kids would cringe as the adults dug in, but many a child would grow into being a fan, me among them.   We didn't have them often at home, since mom insisted on using only "the good stuff" like ground sirloin which was prohibitively pricey for the paltry Mueller budget.  

None of us ever, ever got sick from them.

The Journal/Sentinel tells us the cannibal sandwich is part of our Polish/German heritage, as much as head cheese, sulze and brandy as a cocktail ingredient.  It's a tradition dating back to the 18th century which tells me that if tiger meat was making so many of us sick and culling the herd by such a huge number, well, someone would've decided that beef and onions aren't such a keen idea, at least not without a hot frying pan being involved.

If southeast Wisconsin looked like Atlanta near the end of the Civil War with the curbs stocked with  folks who'd succumbed to cannibal-sandwich-induced e-coli, fine.  One outbreak sourced to a single meat shop?  My takeaway there is you've got to be careful with how you handle anything from the butcher, be it raw beef or chicken (which is far more likely to make you sick if dealt with badly).

Stand down, Wisconsin Department of Health.  Please be there to guide us through whooping cough and to tell is when flu season is nigh (I'm guessing it's right about now).  Allow me to cheat death while ingesting the odd cannibal sandwich on a few rare occasions without feeling as though I'm eating a uranium-enriched slider. 

There's no bad "tiger meat"--just bad handlers of same.  Now, please pass the salt and pepper while I slice up a few raw onions.



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