Coast Cooking

Macaroni and cheese is a favorite on the diner menu

Macaroni and cheese is a standard in the American diner.
Macaroni and cheese is a standard in the American diner. Special to the Sun Herald

The list of good or not so good things you might find to eat at a classic American diner is long.

There is sure to be a pleasant amount of diversity, based on in which part of the nation you might find yourself, but there is one constant that I think you would find almost anywhere.

Macaroni and cheese is classic Americana. Its roots go back to Italian immigrants who could not do without their pasta, a half a dozen European countries with strong cheese traditions and of course our good friends the French who remind us that making a good sauce is an artform.

In this case, it would be one of the mother sauces, béchamel.

If you insist on elbow macaroni, process (fake) cheese and a little milk, so be it. Most of us grew up on the boxed version of macaroni and cheese. But if you want to make this dish up-town, use a best-quality cheese, like gruyere, farm-fresh cream you got at the farmer’s market and an imported pasta. Put it all together, bake it in a quick oven, and you will have a dish that much resembles a French gratin that your family will love.