In 1898, America fought the Spanish-American War in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and islands in the Pacific, leading to further action in the Philippines and then the so-called Banana Wars in South and Central America. This introduced many Americans to Latin American dishes that were already well-known in Texas and the rest of the Southwest: chili con carne, refried beans, and tortillas.
Other than chili con carne, the dishes were slow to catch on. Even in 1950, John A Stoller, in his published article about visiting Texas and Mexico, felt it necessary to describe tortillas explicitly as “a thin flapjack made from corn, salt, and water.”
Of course, even the venerable German dish of Hamburg steak (served raw, like steak tartare, or very rare) didn’t become a proper hamburger sandwich until about 1900 and didn’t become common until the 1920s.
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