Lynn Parrish keeps her pantry well-stocked so she can pull together meals for expected and unexpected guests. Her specialty is traditional dishes from her husband's Greek upbringing.
Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer
Lynn Parrish makes pastitsio
Welcome to her own big fat Greek dinner party
Throwing a big bash? Just call Parrish Party Rental.
Entertaining is second nature to Lynn Parrish, whose husband, John, thinks nothing of calling at 4 in the afternoon to say that he's bringing people home for dinner, or that guests are dropping by later for coffee and dessert.
That's one of the things she loves about her Greek husband, at least I think it is. She's not complaining, she just raves that he is "the best host and bartender in the world, a great partner."
And she keeps the fridge and pantry well stocked.
"My father thinks you could survive a war here for a few years," she laughs.
Her philosophy: "If you're opening your home, open it more. I hate the thought of someone being home alone."
For their larger events - Christmas Eve numbered 50 family and friends - Lynn pulls out the big guns: oversized coffee makers, extra tables and chairs, big Gatorade containers and food warmers.
"I'm known in the neighborhood," says Lynn, "if you're having a party, I'm party rental," and emergency food pantry. "No one would call anyone else looking for wasabi."
Lynn can cook a variety of ethnic cuisines, but the most requested dishes are her Greek specialties, savory dishes often seasoned with sweet spices.
Look for cinnamon in today's Pastitsio, a Greek lasagna-type dish with two sauces; cinnamon and cloves in her Chicken Kapama, a tomato pasta sauce for pasta; and mint in Keftedakia, or meatballs.
Of Danish and English heritage, Lynn learned Greek cooking and baking from John's aunts, but she was already comfortable in the kitchen when they got married.
"I'm not from a family of cooks; we ate things like dry, fried pork chops," she says. "I think that's why I started cooking early."
Lynn plowed through piles of cookbooks, and she relied on recipes off the backs of soup cans and boxes of rice and pasta.
She hasn't stopped adding to her repertoire. Among her favorite Greek sources are "Greektown Chicago: Its History - Its Recipes," by Alexa Ganakos and "What's Cooking in Niles," from St. Haraambos Greek Orthodox Church.
Her favorite grocery store is Minos Imported Foods in Addison; buffet dinners are her favorite way to entertain.
"People can move around and relax," she says. "I'm not a formal cook; I don't want anybody to feel nervous about what fork to use, or to think I slaved; I'm part of the party."
But not too big a part.
"My husband and I will give a party for anyone," she says. "If anyone gave us a party we'd probably hide; I don't like the attention."
She says it's been that way for 23 years - ever since they eloped.