Australia is a culinary paradise for chicken parma fans.
The pub classic has been picked as one of the most delicious foods ever created.
Chicken parmigiana – ranked 37th – is the only Australian inclusion in CNN’s list of the world’s 50 best foods.
“I’m shocked that it’s considered one of the classic Australian dishes. Maybe we just have to go with it,” tour operator and food author Allan Campion told The New Daily.
“It’s become a real pub staple. There’s no doubt about it.”
But you would not want to indulge in factory-made parmigiana that’s frozen, defrosted and then fried.
“It can be pretty bad,” Mr Campion said.
While chicken parmigiana originates from Italy, the pub classic has become an iconic Australian staple.
Fiona Melbourne, owner of Melbourne establishment Mrs Parma’s, said the bar/bistro sells on average about 150 chicken parmigianas every day.
Using wholesome, fresh ingredients is key to making the pub delicacy a standout dish.
“Everything has to be fresh, everything has to be handmade. We would never, ever deep fry or serve any frozen parmas. That’s an absolute sin in our book,” Ms Melbourne said.
Mr Campion said in order to turn “something fairly ordinary into something beautiful” he would purchase chicken from Victorian town Milawa, and add parmigiano, parsley and lemon zest into some “really fresh bread crumbs”.
“Then I’d make sure I’d get the best local tomatoes that I could to make the best sauce to go over the top of that and add some great local farmhouse cheese.
“We’re not stuck in the tradition of those dishes.”
A simple stir fry using “incredible Australian lamb or beautiful Australian beef, great local herbs like coriander and gorgeous spring onion” and maybe even kangaroo if you wanted to be “a little but funny” would classify as a great Australian dish.
Australia has some “incredible” stand-alone food products that should be celebrated, Mr Campion said.
“We have incredible fresh ingredients that you don’t need to do a lot to.”
Oysters, for example, are “phenomenal around Australia” and is easily one of the world’s best foods, Mr Campion said.
He found that tourists are immediately wowed by the flavour of some of Australia’s freshest oysters.
“We have guests who come to Melbourne that we take out on our tours, and we take them to have oysters at the Queen Victoria Market, for instance, freshly opened, flown in from South Australia or Coffin Bay and they go ‘wow, they are incredible’,” Mr Campion said.
“Barbecuing is a similar thing.
“We had some French guests recently who really wanted to try kangaroo. We did a little mountain pepper rub onto the kangaroo. We cooked it on the barbecue very carefully and served that up with beautiful couscous salad.
“What a mix of traditions and flavours and ideas but it works for us and that’s the thing. Australians are on the whole quite open to tasting and trying new foods.”