Apparently I’m one of the few unexcited about the new iPhone app that will translate menus, although I could use its utility on some overwritten ones around town if indeed I had a real mobile. The best part of travel, beyond the memories you bank in your mental 401K, is learning. And deciphering a menu is the gateway to language in most countries where you would pack a pricey toy, at least in the West. The rituals of dinner are actually primitive lessons: You absorb the courtesy basics and the essentials (water, wine, check). But the bigger argument against instant understanding is that you lose the magic in the translation. Whenever we’re handed English menus in Italy or France, I ask for the real one; otherwise the most seductive dish sounds like “spaghetti with mushroom sauce” or “beef stew.” One of our most enjoyable moments at table came in a very elegant restaurant in Milan where no one spoke English and the waiter brought the chef out to explain what a beef dish was — he translated by showing us where it came from on his own body (the shoulder), which was a sight for my retirement fund. Anything like that is worth the risk of accidentally ordering cavallo or cervelle.