If you mention Italian Cuisine, does someone you know yell “Oh! Chicken Parma!” If they do then it’s a 99% chance that they also think the perfect Pizza has soggy pineapple scattered all over. Well, you can confidently tell that friend – who also probably thinks that Mario is an exact character build of every man in Italy – that neither of these actually developed in Italy.
The Chicken Parmigiana, if you will, is the food adaptation of Chinese Whispers… and no, this doesn’t mean that the Parma originated from China. Arguably, the most sought after pub food in Australia adopts a history that’s been twisted over time and tossed around numerous countries to land itself as the perfect menu choice in almost every pub across the land of OZ.
We cannot pinpoint exactly where it all started for the Parma/Parmi/Parmo, as it’s been palmed off countless times. Although, if it did start in Italy, it would’ve began as an Eggplant. The “Parmigiana” is a traditional Italian dish that consists of sliced eggplant that is layered in cheese and covered in a tomato based sauce.
Well, where is the chicken you ask? We can confirm that the chicken did in fact come after the egg…. eggplant, that is. The introduction of the chicken as the bed of the parma is rumoured to have started in America. Is this the American dream??…Or simply an American daydreaming who mistakenly grabbed a chicken instead of an eggplant. The latter seems logical, we can see where the confusion may have lay. Although, precisely how the chicken managed to roll in crunchy bread crumbs is beyond us, but hey! It works, very well!
At this point we have 90% of the Parma origin pinned, but what about the other 10% that presents itself in the form ham? How did this slice of ham slither its way between the chicken and the cheese? We can confidently inform you that it didn’t just miraculously slither its way in, it was carefully and intentionally placed. We’ve done the academic research on this one, and there’s not much evidence supporting the ham phenomenon and exactly who snuck the ham under the cheese. All we know is that it’s heavily adopted in Australian Pubs, therefore, until proven wrong the ham’d Parma is Aussie. Good on ya Straya!
So next time you find yourself travelling Italy, be sure to visit the Northern city of Parma, where you probably won’t find a Parma.
However, you will find one at Castello’s.