I've always worked in the restaurant biz, and one of the first places I worked was a tiny hole-in-the-wall Cuban joint near my house. The place was authentic, run by a couple of Cuban brothers, and famous for its incredible black beans, ropa vieja, and fruity mojitos. As fate would have it, my best friend is also half Cuban (shout-out to you, Michelle), though you'd never be able to tell based off her red hair and fair skin. Still, she rocks her Latino heritage like it's going out of style. We like to go for Cuban sandwiches and guacamole when I'm in town and speak Spanish with the waiters.

While the U.S. may have qualms with Cuba, it certainly doesn't have any problem with devouring some of the controversial country's best dishes. I truly believe that food is the ultimate peacemaker, so maybe that's a start. Let's all bond over fried plantains and rum! World Peace! (It's possible that I'm living in a disillusioned fantasy world, but I digress.)

Although none of us will be visiting Cuba anytime soon, we can all learn a lot about a culture through its food. Here are some recipes to get you started. My personal favorites are yuca, black beans and rice, and plantains in any preparation. When all the aforementioned are on one plate, I just about lose my mind. It's THAT good.

Chicken in Pineapple Sauce
Credit: Con Poulos
Yuca Fries with Mojo
Credit: Oxmoor House