Béchamel is the most basic white sauce, from which numerous other sauces stem. White sauce is made with a roux of butter and flour mixed with milk and cooked over a gentle heat until smooth and slightly thick. The milk may be scalded first and flavoured with onion and nutmeg. You can add a variety of ingredients to a basic white sauce to transform it into something more flavoursome, such as chopped parsley, grated cheese, white wine, cooked chopped mushrooms, cooked onions and so on.
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White sauce is most commonly used in Britain as part of comfort foods such as cauliflower cheese, lasagne or moussaka. In Spain, they eat wonderful croquettes from very thick chilled white sauce mixed with ham or fish, then breaded and fried.