Maple and bacon in themselves, provided they are real, can prove overpowering as adjectives to describe food. Combine the two in, let's say, a jam, and you have a strong temptation to order that wherever you can find them together.
Well, the maple bacon jam on the cronut burger at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto was determined to be the source of about 223 cases of food poisoning.
The parallels were a bit eerie for me: I've been to the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto in 2010 to try deep-fried butter. If I were on the grounds, resisting a cronut burger would have been difficult. Adding maple bacon jam would have made the experience that much sweeter. The "you only live once" mantra would have been screaming in my head.
Does that mean I would have been sick as a result? That part still isn't clear. After all, many more people would have consumed the burger than those who became sick. Perhaps the timing of when you bought the burger determined whether some got sick and others didn't. Weakened immune systems could have played a factor.
Being sick is bad enough, but imagine being sick on vacation, then imagine being sick on vacation in a foreign country (albeit with better health care). You can run into similar issues at any point, home or away, but away has many more perils.
Before the maple bacon jam was identified as the source, the fear was that the cronut burger was the cause. As we've noted, Canada is extra paranoid about overcooking its burgers. In a setting such as the CNE, the concern would be to overcook rather than undercook. Turns out the burgers weren't the issue; while the jam was at fault, we still don't know whether it was the jam or how it was handled.
All of this for a food that would have been interesting, but let's be honest, so complicated that you might not have even noticed the individual tastes.
As disturbed as people are when I tell them the story of deep-fried butter, you could really taste the butter. In a cronut burger, chances are you can't appreciate the burger or the cronut in its purest form. And you aren't ordering a cronut burger because you think the meat is outstanding.
While the deep-fried butter had its share of calories, the cronut burger had a reported 7,000 calories. That is about 3½-4 days worth of calories. A taste, perhaps, but not sure I could have finished 7,000 calories in one sitting.
Full disclosure: I still have not had a cronut, so maybe they are awesome. Or not. Still, I would want my first cronut to be by itself without meat or jam in the mix.
I also have never had maple bacon jam, though that with a croissant, sounds pretty good. Provided, of course, that the maple bacon jam was in good care.
There is no doubt that, if offered, I would have tried the burger. And likely I would have been sick as a result.
When I was in Paris, my stomach was upset for about 36 hours. I had a hunch as to the source, but couldn't tell you exactly. And while I felt uncomfortable, I wasn't ill. I nursed it along with French Coca-Cola, which was great, and sure enough, my stomach got better. But I was ready to find the green crosses that I knew symbolized the pharmacies scattered throughout Paris.
When on vacation, you need to be aware of what you are eating and any symptoms that may result, whether the fault of the food you are eating or not. And if you really are getting sick, find a way to get help.
Travel and food always involve risks, though hopefully, not on the scale of these food poisonings.
At some point, I will end up at the CNE or some other provincial or state fair and will likely indulge in some similar type treat. Eating that food might be a gamble but food is a risk. Be smart, do some homework, but don't shy away from trying something you can't get at home. You'll get a wonderful experience that still has very good odds to be worthwhile.