The Great Australian Debate: Is It Chicken Parmi, Parmy or Parma?


Josh Dabelstein settles, once and for all, the never-ending debate about the correct pronunciation and contraction of the nation’s most important pub meal.

My Facebook news feed has re-exploded with hospitality workers arguing once again as to the correct abbreviation of the meal ‘Chicken Parmigiana’.

Now when it comes to colloquial language, you could say that English is as she’s spoke. When it comes to matters of empirics, you could say ‘there are two sides to every coin’, or even ‘one can never be sure’.

There is only one way of colloquially referring to your flattened and battered, fried and baked, sauced and cheesed and well seasoned dead bird atop hot chips and beside an untouched side salad. So please, leave your epistemological scepticism at the door.

See, when it comes to discerning which abbreviation — ‘parmi’, or ‘parma’ — is the one and only correct way for the time-poor to refer to a ‘Chicken Parmigiana’, you cannot let what feels right prevail on that basis alone.

Just because your own mother etched a linguistic blasphemy into your chicken-frothing husk as she draped her lonely frame over the counter at the Mollymook Bowling Club and ordered you the same meal week in week out from the day your Dad left until the day you got into a university, you have no excuse to continue wrongfully shortening the name of the meal ‘Chicken Parmigiana’ the same way that she did.

The Mollymook Bowlo… home of the greatest Chicken Parmigiana in the immediate vicinity.

You have a choice now. You’re a grown up now. You’re a big kid. You’re a chicken hawk, a purveyor of beaten meat of all persuasions — you survived adolescence! You don’t need fond memories dictating your direction.

What you need is information, logical faculties, and rational consistency. So here goes what will either help to bolster your pre-existing understanding of the correct abbreviation, or alternatively what will unzip your sense of self and force upon you a slow and gruelling process of self-examination and ego-restructure.


Case: That the meal ‘Chicken Parmigiana’ is correctly abbreviated to ‘Parmy/Parmi’.

Premise 1: Chicken Parmigiana is a western bastardisation of the original ‘Parmigiana’, which uses eggplant. In Australia, we sell this as a ‘Vegetarian Parmigiana’ or ‘Eggplant Parmigiana’. ‘Parmigiana’ denotes a meal that is cooked using Parmesan cheese. That is all. If you are in a restaurant that serves a ‘Chicken Parmagiana’, like the one that I write this from right now, then don’t let the staff know because it doesn’t fucking matter, you weirdcunt.

Premise 2: That ‘Parmy’ and ‘Parmi’ are the same, and not to be confused with the incorrect ‘Parma’. Blackboard/menu spelling and all hideous variants have never and will never matter because at the end of the day as long as you get to sup upon the flesh of a bird with a vitamin D deficiency you should be as happy as you’d expected to be when you handed your $20 over and loosened your belt.

Premise 3: That the word ‘parmigiana’ is a reference to the parmesan cheese used, and not to the town of Parma in Italy. Any meal that is based on the necessary ingredient of Parmesan includes ‘con parmigiana’, ‘alla parmigiana’, etc. For example: ‘Melanzane alla parmigiana’; ‘Ricette Gnocchi alla parmigiana’;

Premise 4: That colloquialisms are phonetic, and not based on correct spelling. ‘Parmi’ would be the most correct spelling, but considering that people caring about spelling is as passé for those who do as it is annoying for those who don’t, just as long as you say it correctly I promise to not jump out from behind you and your full belly with a shiv and a grin in an RSL carpark.

Premise 5: That mispronunciation of the word ‘parmigiana’ as ‘par-MA-giana’ does not constitute phonetic inconsistency, it just makes you ignorant. (Sub-premise: That colloquialisms are phonetic, and not based on correct spelling). Also, not being able to spell makes you ignorant too.

Again, the spelling of your pronunciation of a colloquial term is irrelevant as long as the sound being produced is based on the correct spelling of parmigiana. Think about the word ‘Penis’. You could say ‘peenie/peeny’ (we extend the ‘e’— sound in order to accommodate phonetics), but it wouldn’t matter which. ‘Peeno’, despite us being in Australia, just doesn’t really work. Honestly, if you want to use the word ‘parma’ then be consistent in your absurdity: ask your girlfriend to touch your ‘peena’ and good luck with that.

Therefore, using the abbreviation ‘Parma’ based on the misconception that the meal is from ‘Parma’ is completely incorrect. Further, using the abbreviation ‘Parma’ because Australians seem to pronounce the word ‘PARMAJANA’ and misspell it a lot is not good enough either.

The correct abbreviation is pronounced ‘Parmi/Parmy’.

Also, you could have just fucking googled it:

Joshua Dabelstein is a writer's writer and a sporadic New Matilda contributor.