Two of my best friends from Sydney are arriving on Friday to stay for the weekend before we set off for a week of island hopping on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. They will be arriving very early at Heathrow and, although they are both well known for their stamina, I figured it would be best to plan activities for the daytime, rather than evening, so that we will be homeward bound by the time the jetlag starts to kick in. Since one of these activities is lunch at one of the world’s top restaurants, I have decided that the usual four course dinner with which I like to treat my guests will probably not be necessary or even desired that evening, and after a couple of bottles of wine I won’t really be in a fit state to make such a feast. As such, I have decided to make a moussaka tomorrow night or Friday morning, so that there is something to pop in the oven when we get home from our outing. And, just in case you were starting to wonder how this was ever going to get round to the topic of white sauces, every good moussaka needs a béchamel!
I was going to try and keep this brief, but believe or not, there is a surprising amount to say on the subject. I decided to turn once again to Mastering the Art of French Cooking to check whether my recipe stood up to its classical origins and was shocked to find not one or two, but six pages on béchamel sauce and veloute, and that is before they even get into the variations which use these as their base.