In fact, there are two stories as to how the dish got its name. One story is that both the dish and the cheese are (separately) named for the Parma region of Italy.
In La Cucina tradizionale siciliana, by Anna Pomar she writes.
- "This is an ancient Sicilian dish which, in all cookbooks it is erroneously stated that the dish obtains its name from parmesan cheese which is one of the ingredients. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The name "parmigiana" does not derive from that of the cheese but is the Italianization of the Sicilian dialectic word "parmiciana" which are the slats of wood which compose the central part of a shutter and overlap in the same manner as the slices of eggplant in the dish." (Translated from the Italian)
It is served across the world, most often in Italy and in countries like the U.S., where large numbers of Italian immigrants have settled.
The parmigiana has become very popular in Australia as a pub dish, (often referred to as a parma or a parmi), and can also contain sliced ham, depending on region. A variation on the dish, popular in home cooking but rare in public eateries, includes sliced tomato instead of the sauce.