The parmo is a food associated with the area of Teesside, in north-east England. It consists of a fillet of breaded chicken, pork, or other meat that is fried, covered with béchamel sauce and cheese, and then grilled, and is often sold as a takeaway meal. Both the name and the preparation are somewhat reminiscent of the Italian-American dish chicken (or veal, etc.) parmesan or parmigiana (chicken parm for short), though this always involves tomato sauce rather than béchamel sauce and is made with a combination of mozzarella and parmesan cheeses (hence the name). The American dish is in turn a carnivorous reinvention of the classic Italian dish melanzane parmigiana, made with slices of aubergine.
The Teesside dish, also known as a parmesan, is often said to have originated at the American Grill in Middlesbrough in the late 1950s, but when was it first actually called a ‘parmo’? The earliest evidence found by the OED’s researchers dates from 2003, in a Middlesbrough newspaper:
And to show that Tees Speak is alive and well, how about that genuinely Middlesbrough word, and culinary invention, the ‘parmo’.
2003 Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough), 9 May
However, anecdotal evidence suggests that the word was in use by the 1990s, if not before; the 2003 date most likely reflects the available digitized archives of local newspapers, rather than actual usage. Can you help us find earlier evidence of parmo?
Posted by OED_Editor on 12 June 2015 13.22