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The Parmo or Teesside Parmesan is a breaded cutlet dish originating in Middlesbrough and a popular item of take-away food in the North East of England. Similar to a schnitzel, it traditionally consisted of pork in breadcrumbs topped with a white béchamel/Parmesan sauce and, despite the name, usually Cheddar cheese; there are many variations, including non-pork cutlets. The Teesside version differs from the Italian Parmesan which is made with veal and uses Gruyère cheese instead of béchamel sauce.
The parmo is said to have been created by Nicos Harris, a chef with the American army in World War II. He was wounded in France, but was brought to the United Kingdom to be treated in a British hospital. Eventually, he moved to Middlesbrough and opened a restaurant on Linthorpe Road, where he created the parmo at The American Grill in 1958. His son-in-law, Caramello, still lived in Teesside as of 2014, continuing the family tradition.
In 2009, supermarket chain Asda started selling parmos in their shops in Teesside. They claimed they were selling 6,000 chicken parmos a week, making them at the time the shop's fastest-selling line. Asda later expanded this line to branches outside Teesside.
Common parmo variants include additional toppings and preparations of the meat. These include:
- Parmo hotshot - chicken or pork topped with cheese, pepperoni, peppers, garlic butter and chilli
- Parmo Kiev - chicken only topped with cheese, garlic butter, and mushrooms
- Parmo Italia - chicken or pork topped with cheese, garlic butter and ham, with a further topping of mozzarella cheese
- Meat feast parmo - chicken or pork topped with pepperoni, chicken and ham
- Parmo Zeno - chicken or pork topped with cheese and onions
Due to its size, a full parmo is usually served in a pizza box with any accompanying chips and salad, although a large round polystyrene tray is also common.
In 2007, North Yorkshire Trading Standards conducted a survey of 25 fast food dishes. A large parmo with chips and salad they tested contained about 2600 calories and 150g of fat.
In popular culture
- "Primo Parmo" is the title of a short film, made by North East film company ACT 2 CAM in 2011. The film formed one of 10 stories which premiered at Tyneside Cinema under the title of 'Such is Life' with soundtrack by Lee Scratch Perry. Filmed at the abandoned Smith's Docks in South Bank, the film follows the fortunes of an illegal Parmo trader and explores the concept of cannibalism.
- The parmo appeared on ITV's Saturday Cooks! on 15 December 2007, and was cooked by Antony Worrall Thompson, with guidance from Tamsinne Hatfield, who originally brought the recipe to the attention of the chef.
- The Parmesan appeared on Channel 4's Ruth Watson's Hotel Rescue programme on 14 October 2009 from the Kenbarry Hotel/The Blackpool, Blackpool where Ruth described it as "the antichrist of cooking".
- The parmo was the subject of a question in the TV quiz show Eggheads on 13 November 2009. In the final round, when asked the region from which the parmo originates, the challenging team incorrectly answered East Anglia, in preference to North Wales and the correct answer Teesside. The incorrect answer given meant the Eggheads won that particular day's contest. Teesside was misspelled 'Teeside'.[by whom?]
- On 30 May 2010, a small parmo was served as a starter in an edition of Channel 4's Come Dine with Me filmed in Darlington.
- On 27 January 2013, hosts Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer on Sunday Brunch presented Teesside native and former X Factor contestant Amelia Lily with a chicken parmo on the show.
- On 8 March 2018, MasterChef UK Series 14 contestant Anthony O'Shaughnessy served a Teesside-style Chicken Parmo as part of a two-course menu inspired by the North-East of England. The dish was judged by previous winners of the show and was very highly rated despite its 'hideous' appearance. The Parmo became an overnight sensation and #ChickenParmo became the top trending topic on Twitter in the United Kingdom. The exposure of the Parmo led to supermarket chain Asda stocking a 'Parmo Kit' to cater for surge in demand in selected stores.
- "BBC - Tees Parmo! - Teeside Parmesan recipe". Retrieved 2018-01-16.
- "BBC - Tees Parmo! - Italian Parmesan recipe". Retrieved 2018-01-16.
- "Teesside's fast food sensation". BBC. 2011-11-06. Retrieved 2014-08-20.
- "Parmos flying off store shelves". BBC News. 2009-07-22. Retrieved 2014-08-20.
- Hancox, Dan (2009-10-09). "The 'parmo' goes national". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-08-20.
- Hudson, Jeff (June 2007). "A project to ascertain the energy, fat and salt levels, in a selection of takeaway ready meals obtained from outlets in North Yorkshire". North Yorkshire County Council Trading Standards Service. North Yorkshire County Council. Archived from the original on 2013-09-21.
- Teesside recipe
- Chicken Parmesan
- Parmo: Teesside's fast food sensation, BBC Inside Out – North East, 11 June 2007
- April Fool Evening Gazette article about the "history" of parmo
- Stocktons Big Challenge - Parmo Calculator! How many miles does it take to burn a Parmo?
- Hardwick, Natalie (29 August 2014). "Welcome to the Magical, Mystical World of Parmo". Vice.