Parma, Parmi or Parmy? The Debate That Divides A Nation
Ford or Holden? AFL or NRL? Barnsey or Farnsy?
These are just some of the great debates that have dominated Australia’s pub-talk scene since the beginning of time – or at least since John Farnham commenced his third farewell tour.
Walk into your local tonight and I guarantee you will hear some version of the below shouted incredulously across the bar…
“What do you mean You’re the Voice is more of a classic than Khe Sanh!? Have you lost your mind?”
Australians love to take sides, to align ourselves with that which we deem to be right and true. And once we plant our flag on one side, no amount of logic, evidence or reason can convince us to wander across to the other.
In recent times, one particular debate has become so heated, so controversial, so fundamental to the very core of what defines us as Australians, that many fear its potential to cause a nationwide civil war.
Parma, Parmi or Parmy?
The correct abbreviation of Australia’s most adored pub staple, the Chicken Parmigiana, has reignited dormant state rivalries, split friendship groups and caused rifts within even the closest of families.
There is something about a perfectly crumbed, juicy chicken breast, lathered in rich tomato sauce, topped with a slice of ham and coated in an ever-so-slightly burnt layer of cascading cheesy deliciousness that evokes such visceral emotions within Australians.
“It’s spelt PARMI-giana, so obviously it’s a Chicken Parmi.”
“Yeah, but it’s pronounced PARMA-giana, so it’s clearly a Chicken Parma.”
“But you only pronounce it that way because of your uncouth, lazy Australian drawl!”
Much like the Barnes/Farnham chatter referenced earlier, walk into any pub in Australia and you are sure to hear a conversation along these lines. And with a quarter of Aussies consuming at least two Chicken Parmigianas a month, it’s no surprise that people are so passionate about the correct terminology.
Although the Parmigiana began life in southern Italy in the 18th century as a lightly-fried slice of eggplant layered with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese, the modern, western version we have come to know and love tends to feature softer melting cheeses like Mozzarella.
But for many Aussies the dish’s history is of little consequence – all that matters is that it tastes delicious, and it’s called by its proper bloody name.
While we may never reach a consensus on the Parma vs Parmi vs Parmy debate, if there is one thing we can be certain about it’s that Australians are passionate – and parochial – about their food.