A parmo page-turner: the north’s famous culinary curiosity to be celebrated in new book

Britain’s most controversial and curious dish, the parmo, is set to join the likes of the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie and Stilton Cheese in having a book dedicated to the story of its rise from a little-known regional delicacy to a national culinary phenomenon.

Parmo: The Definitive Guide by Middlesbrough-born historian Dr Tosh Warwick is to be published later this year and will be the first book dedicated to the Teesside delicacy.

As well as charting the disputed history of the dish, the book will feature a range of recipes and look at the ways in which cheese and bechemel coupled with a variety of bread-crumbed chicken, pork, veal, veggie and vegan varieties has captured the imagination of the nation.

The parmo or parmesan, most commonly made using chicken or pork, has been a Teesside takeaway favourite for decades.

Although the parmo’s birthplace has been disputed, its origins are widely attributed to post-Second World War Middlesbrough.

In recent years the parmo has spread far beyond the banks of the Tees to become a symbol of the area and a favourite dish of global pop icons and sports personalities.

A number of businesses including Manjaros, Parmogeddon and Parmstar have helped spread the parmo’s popularity across Britain through pop-up stalls and restaurants including at major events and festivals.

The parmo has also featured on primetime TV including appearances on MasterChef and The X Factor, whilst numerous celebrities including Liam Gallagher, Kelly Rowland and Ricky Hatton have been snapped enjoying the Teesside delicacy.

Last year the dish was celebrated in the most recent instalment of the World Parmo Championships held on Teesside which sees restaurants and takeaways battle it out for the title of the ‘World’s Best Parmo’.

The 2,000 calories plus delicacy has also been the subject of criticism from health watchdogs for its high calorie content, as well as from Teessiders frustrated at the acclaim afforded to the late-night favourite.

Parmo: The Definitive Guide author Dr Tosh Warwick from Heritage Unlocked said: “The parmo is one of the most famous and controversial dishes in Britain and divides opinion, ranging from parmo-loving devotees to those horrified by its high number of calories.

“Regardless of the pros and cons of the parmo, it is without doubt the major culinary creation associated with the region and one of the area’s cultural curiosities. Through the World Parmo Championships and extensive media coverage the parmo has helped put the region on the map.”

As part of the project, author Dr Tosh Warwick is inviting contributions from the public for potential inclusion in the book including parmo memories, recipes, origin stories and opinions on the rise of the delicacy as an icon of the area.

He added: “Hopefully as the first book on the dish, Parmo: The Definitive Guide can help settle some of the arguments about the dish’s history, provide a platform for promoting the area and help shed new light on what has been dubbed ‘the north’s favourite dish’.”

Mieka Smiles, Middlesbrough Council’s executive member for culture and communities, added: “Food is a fundamental part of a region’s cultural identity but the parmo goes further than that. It’s a Teesside initiation.

“Those who haven’t experienced one are treat with curious suspicion and many a time sat down and watched whilst they take a first bite.

“Last year Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston relaunched the World Parmo Championships celebrating our most famous dish and we hope to build on the event year on year to help create a real parmo roadmap.”

• Those interested in contributing to Parmo: The Definitive Guide can contact Dr Tosh Warwick at info@heritageunlocked.com or by filling in the contact form at www.heritageunlocked.com/news/parmo.