By Matt Shelver, Community Editor
“Madison Ride-or-Dies” is a series in which our writers and staff write love letters to uniquely Madisonian foods they just can’t live without.
A ritual is truly a funny thing: it is something so cherished and so ingrained in one’s life, yet it can become so regular that the very first time fades from memory. You can’t quite nail down when exactly you first did this thing, but you nevertheless know that the ritual had to have started at some point, and that your innocent, younger self couldn’t have possibly known what joy was waiting in the wings.
In just the same fashion, I carry with me the knowledge that one ordinary afternoon, perhaps two years ago, perhaps three, I must have walked up to the counter at Der Rathskeller and unknowingly scheduled a first date with what would become the most craved and beloved food item of my college career: the Rathskeller buffalo wrap.
I’ve eaten the Rath’s buffalo wrap at least once a week for literal years. It’s my foremost food ritual, and anyone currently on staff at The Dish will tell you that my devotion to it is borderline comical—meme-y, you could say. There is a reason for my zealotry, however, and it’s this: even now, I still can’t believe an eatery as mundane, ubiquitous, and university-operated as Der Rathskeller serves something this unbelievably good. It is a gastronomical beauty hiding in plain sight—so obvious that no one noticed.
I could fill volumes with all the things I love about this wrap. However, for practical purposes in a hopelessly practical world, I’ll restrict myself here to the most fundamental details.
The wrap comes to you cut into two tightly-rolled halves, the sheer-shorn faces of each revealing a glistening, circular collage of orange, green, beige, and white. Upon picking one up and taking a first bite, you’ll find that the wrap has a bite that, though beautifully soft, is counterbalanced by the crust of the chicken, which offers the perfect little hint of crunch. You will also find that the buffalo sauce is sharp yet not challenging, prevalent yet not dripping; that the lettuce is an unobtrusive and untaxing presence, not unlike a whisper; that the small quantities of bleu cheese are not in any sense overpowering, but rather have a pleasant saltiness; and that the whole-wheat tortilla is subtle, sensible, and reserved, like a kind and attentive butler happily existing in the background of things.
Last but not least, the wrap is made even more delicious by the simple fact that when all is said and done, the damn thing will only set you back $7.12, side-dish and all—even less if you pay with your Wiscard. That’s like getting a cask of champagne for two bits, compadre.
If by this point you’re rearing to get a taste of the wrap for yourself, then I’d like to welcome you wholeheartedly to my little cult and congratulate you on the step you’re about to take. Before you give it a shot, though, I think you’d do well to receive a little instruction first. Eating a Rathskeller buffalo wrap is about one of the most pleasurable things a badger can do, but only provided said badger follows proper procedure.
Here are the DOs and DON’Ts of the wrap, which I’ve perfected and dialed in through years of experience in the field.
That’s all I’ve got for now, dear reader. I’m off to go get myself a wrap as a reward for writing this piece.