Customs: The Barrendipity Game

Serendipity, as all good vocabularians know, is that happy faculty for finding something where you least expect it. Barrendipity, by contrast, is not finding something where you most expect it. And no one knows that better than the American turned world traveler.

Let him order Danish pastry in Copenhagen and people will shrug their shoulders in dismay. They call it Vienna bread. Ask for vichyssdise in Vichy: until recently the French waiter said blankly, "Pardon?" And why should he know? It was invented in 1917 by Louis Diat, the chef at New York's Ritz-Carlton Hotel to take advantage of all...