The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

September 3, 2011

Out of ‘wac’ with in-laws

Michele M. Bender
For The Tribune-Democrat

— I’ve always lucked out with in-laws. I especially enjoyed “Pa Bender.” He reminded me of Wilford Brimley, but not as gruff.

Born and raised in Buffalo, N.Y., he told colorful tales of his large family, Lake Erie and Niagara Falls.

One hot August, my hubby and I took Pa on a special vacation to upstate New York. We stayed with Pa’s sister, Edna, and her husband, Uncle Matt, in Hamburg.

For years, Pa raved about his favorite dish, roast beef on “kimmowac.” The day we arrived, we went for dinner at a tavern specializing in this famous sandwich.

I suspect that “kimmowac” is a Mohawk word meaning “stale, salty bread.” I could barely chew it. (Actually, it’s a German word, “kummelweck,” but when folks say it, it comes out “wac.”)

Nowadays, “beef on ‘wac’ ” is a trendy New York menu item like Buffalo wings. Trust me, it requires heavy “beverage” consumption to “hack the ‘wac.’ ”

Michele Mikesic Bender is a Johnstown resident and a member of The Tribune-Democrat’s Readership Advisory Committee.


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