Gotts Diner, Palo Alto, California

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We wanted to try the quintessential American food experience, so after wandering around the lovely Campus at Stanford, in heat and bright sunshine, we parked up in the “Town and Country Village” nearby and headed into the air conditioned simplicity of Gotts Roadside Diner.

It was busy, and noisy, with a hubbub of conversation and an occasional roar of flames from the grills in the open kitchen. Tiled walls and hard counters did nothing to soften the sounds. Blue smoke rose continuously from an array of huge burgers and bacon and although it was whisked away by huge extractor hoods, the smell was mouth-watering as everything dripped fat and sizzled.

It may have been the least healthy meal I have ever eaten, with vast quantities of calories, saturated fat, salt, simple carbohydrates and a milkshake that probably had a month’s sugar allowance in it, but it was divine. There is something about perfectly grilled beef, onions and just slightly toasted white bread and a selection of pickles and condiments that hits the spot and a Gotts burger, fries and shake was a masterpiece of the art. It was not hard to understand why the place was popular and why there was such a cross-section of diners from silicon valley offices, to local families out in the school holidays to tourists from almost everywhere on earth. Every size, shape, colour and language, consuming far more than they should and enjoying every bit of it. The American Dream.