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You are in: Inside Out > North East > Teesside's fast food sensation

The classic Parmo

The classic Parmo - lashings of cheese.

Teesside's fast food sensation

Parma has its ham, Milan is renowned for its Veal Milanese, and Middlesbrough… is the birth place of Parmo. This Teesside delicacy and fast food favourite has scored a huge hit with lovers of good grub.

The Parmo or Parmesan is a slab of pork or chicken bashed flat, rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried.

"If the Parmo was a place, I’d like to think it’d be Middlesbrough. No nonsense, hard as nails, no airs and graces."

Patrick Monahan

Top it off with béchamel sauce and half a block of cheese, and you've got Teesside's signature dish.

Today it's a Teesside institution - when the pubs kick out, the Parmesan houses fill up.

But just 40 miles away in Newcastle, like everywhere else in Britain, the closest thing to the Parmo is a kebab. 

So a group of Teessiders - the self appointed Parmo Kings of Teesside - are trying to spread the word further afield.

The Parmo kings

A passion for this delicious dish has driven the Parmo Kings to set up a Parmesan review website - and now it’s getting thousands of hits a week. 

The boys have become underground celebrities - and Parmo mania is reaching fever pitch.

"Everyone wants to come to Middlesbrough for an original Parmo," says one of the Kings.

"Parmos will be taking over the world very shortly."

Parmo Kings

Parmo Kings - a passion for Parmo.

But how was the Parmo born?

Legend has it that Linthorpe Road in Middlesbrough is the birthplace of the dish.

In reality it was America where the Parmo was born in the 1930s.

The godfather of the Teesside Parmo was Nicos Harris, a chef with the American army in the Second World War.

He was wounded in France but was treated in a British hospital.

Caramello

Long family tradition - Caramello.

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 lives in Middlesbrough and continues the family's proud Parmo tradition.

By the 80s the Greeks and their Escalope Parmesan were taking over Teesside and the number of Parmesan houses exploded.

Today it's hard to miss the Parmo phenomena on the streets of Teesside.

But elsewhere in the North East, most people haven't heard of the tasty delicacy.

The posh Parmo

We asked Paul Amer, a top chef working in Newcastle, to create a posh version of the Parmo to see if Geordies could be won over to Teesside's top treat.

Posh Parmo

Paul Amer's posh Geordie Parmo.

His upmarket Parmo consists of braised belly pork, bechamel sauce and foie gras served with baby vegetables.

But despite his best efforts, the diners at his restaurant refused to order the posh Parmo.

"I've come to the conclusion it should stay in Teesside," he says looking disheartened.

No nonsense food

Lovers of Parmo like nothing better than a slab of their favourite food with chips, salad and even a generous helping of garlic sauce!

Parmo Kings T-shirt

A Teesside tradition - the Parmo.

There's also a Bolognese version as well as fungi and onion derivatives.

It may not be the healthiest eating and it's not posh nosh, but Parmo is good grub for those looking for a hearty late night meal after a few pints of beer.

Teesside’s favourite dish has always existed in a sort of weird food 'twilight zone'.

But there's increasing proof that its fame is spreading and more people are discovering a passion for Parmo - even if it's not the Geordies!  

Why not recreate the Parmo yourself? Visit our recipe pages and photo gallery.

last updated: 06/11/07

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