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Parmo, or Parmesan, a breaded cutlet dish originating in Middlesbrough, is extremely popular in the North East of England. Being quite similar to a schnitzel, it typically consists of chicken in breadcrumbs topped with a white béchamel/Parmesan sauce and cheese. There are also many variations (see below). Parmo is distinct from the Italian-American dish chicken parmigiana, which is briefly pan-fried then baked or broiled and served with a tomato-based 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.
Parmos are offered with additional toppings in combinations that vary from restaurant to restaurant, as for example:
- 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
- Nichola Marina vegetarian parmo - created by Charlie Constantine in honour of his late daughter
Due to its size, a full parmo is usually served in a pizza box along with its accompaniments, 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 contains 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. Ironically for the show, Teesside was misspelled 'Teeside'.
- 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.
- "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.
- "Buck Inn chef names Teesside's first vegetarian parmo after tragic daughter". Teesside Gazette. 2009-03-11. 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.
The BBC Radio 4 Extra drama called "The Recall Man", has an episode called 'Making Waves' where a character refers often to his 'parmesan' or 'parmo'.
- Parmo - The Parmo Recipe
- 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 (magazine).