Hi everyone, and thanks for stopping by! My name is Michaela. I was born in Romania before 1989, at a time when basic foods were rationed and we had to be very resourceful and creative with our cooking. I remember my mom and my aunt working hard to put food on the table and using every last bit/drop/crumb they had to put together our daily meals. They are my heroes who I look up to, and you will find references to them in many of my posts. I am thankful for what I experienced during my childhood, which made me appreciate what I have now even more.

In 2004 my husband and I moved from Romania to Great Britain, where I completed my PhD in International Politics. We then came to the US back in 2010. Anyone who’s gone through this process knows that cultural transition is not easy especially when you hardly know anyone at your destination. You must find a way to make your transition as smooth as possible – something to remind you of the past and also to energize you for the future. For me, that “something” has been food.

Upon moving to the US from Britain, we swapped the idyllic British countryside for the noise and effervescence of a busy city like Chicago. Food-wise, we swapped fish&chips and the spicy chicken tikka masala for the almighty juicy burger and decadent burritos. We also swapped shopping at the supermarket for shopping at “fresh markets,” where fruits and vegetables are displayed in a variety of fascinating ways. Cooking with local ingredients has helped me and my husband with the transition to this country. Cooking has kept us busy, eager to learn more, and constantly amazed.

My blog has “panini” in its title because we love panini and I make them every day for us to take to work. There will be an emphasis on panini. However, this is not a blog exclusively about panini: we like pizza as much as we like roast chicken, and burgers as much as we like salads. This is a blog about the diverse cooking experiences in our household (be they good or bad), and about cooking as a means to connect with the realities of a new country and its culture. I have so much to learn and to discover!