Sunday, January 25, 2009

Strange, but excellent cream.

I remember it very clearly - the first time DH took me to the Commissary here, after we had made the 27-plus-hour journey [with The Boy - who, then was just a "little" seven-month-old puppy] from North Carolina to Michigan, to Amsterdam, and then into Dammam. We were tired exhausted - DH and I - not The Boy, when we walked into our townhouse after being dropped off in the middle of the night [the customs experience that night - and bringing a very, very large puppy into a foreign country that for the most part detests dogs is a whole other story!]. My first impression of the townhouse was, "Who rented this place without asking me about it, first?" I grew to like the townhouse - but it took some time and getting used to.

DH's company does, for the most part, try very hard to make employees and their families as comfortable as possible in their new homes in The Sandbox and went as far as stocking the kitchen with some basics [very bas
ics!]. Whole milk [we drink lowfat], orange juice, a loaf of whole wheat bread, some peanut butter and jelly, a package of some no-name-brand chocolate chip cookies, a small jar of instant coffee and a small box of tea bags - I think there were a couple of apples, a small box of sugar and a box of cereal provided, as well. Poor DH actually had a meeting scheduled that very morning - only some four hours or so after we'd arrived. [Although we would have been dropped off at the townhouse many hours earlier but for the fact that Customs found a Book - read between the lines, there - in our luggage that delayed us for a long, long time]. I got up with him a couple short hours later and boiled water in a pan [no kettle] to make instant coffee for us. He was picked up at promptly seven o'clock and I was left on my own, with The Boy, in our new home, for a few hours while DH was gone - long enough to compile a list of what we needed for groceries and staples...

[The company provides fully, albeit sparsely, furnished living accommodations - furniture, bedding, four towels, a set of dishes for four, silverware for four, four drinking glasses, a set of pots and pans... No coffee pot, though. Just enough to get you through until your own household things arrive or until you are able to purchase whatever it is you need and want.]

A few hours later when DH returned to the
townhouse he said he was going to borrow a friend's car so that we could go up to the Commissary to get some groceries. [DH had been here as a "contractor" for ten months prior to my joining him. Contractor's are not allowed to bring their families. Only full-time employees are privileged enough to do so. And, thus, he knew quite a few people on the compound before I arrived.] A short time later the friend - we'll call him John - came over with his girlfriend - John was on his motorcycle and his girlfriend was driving his car. A big, huge, twenty-year-old navy blue Crown Victoria. We were grateful to have a vehicle and John said, "Go ahead and use it for as long as you need." DH and I went to the Commissary. We needed everything.

As I was going up and down the aisles of the store, loading our cart with whatever I thought we would need for a week or so - along with all of the staples that are needed in a kitchen - salt, pepper, cooking oil... some cleaning products, paper towels... I had on the "list" that we needed half & half - which is what I've been u
sing in my coffee for years. We got to the dairy section and I was searching for it - the half & half. Nothing that looked remotely like it on any of the shelves. DH drinks his coffee black, so it wasn't an issue for him. No half & half. And, certainly no Land O Lakes fat free half & half! A very "Western looking" woman was at the dairy section and so I asked her, "Which of these products most closely resembles half & half?" She was British and had to ask me what I meant. I explained and she pointed out some cream that she used and said it was quite good. Fine. No half & half. I can make my own, right? Use full cream and dilute it with fat free milk. Already, after being in The Sandbox for less than twelve hours, I am discovering just how resourceful I am [although, at that point in time, I had absolutely NO idea how resourceful I was going to need to be!]. I bought the cream. I bought the fat free milk. It was doable. Not great, but you work with what you have and do what you need to do.

Many years later I am no longer making my ow
n half & half and have adapted and use full cream in my coffee. Just a little bit. I know it is super fattening! [Probably why I have gained thirty pounds since we arrived. Sure. Blame it all on the cream.] It took some time to discover which cream tasted the best. Not all cream is the same. Ditto for milk. One brand here tastes so much better than the other. All a matter of preference. I now use Elle & Vire Creme Excellence. It is good. Excellent in coffee. But here is the weird thing. When I open a container of it - and put it back in the refrigerator after opening it - the next morning it is butter. Solid. No pouring can be done. I have to actually spoon it out of the container to use it. And, the cream is not cheap, either. So, before I can use even a part of the container, I end up throwing the whole thing away. Now, whenever I can, I buy the small containers - but, of course, they are not always available. Suffice it to say that I do throw a lot of cream away - or at least I used to. Not anymore.

I don't put it back in the refrigerator any more. Doesn't it go bad? Get sour? Nope. Not at all. Amazingly enough, it can sit on the counter for a week before it starts tasting funny - and if I buy the small containers - they only last a fe
w days. So, for the first time in my life, I am not refrigerating a dairy product that has been opened, afterward. Just let it sit out. And it tastes fine.

This morning I was trying to get to the Ell
e & Vire site - and for whatever reason I can't - but I did find this site. As I was looking at it, I caught this, "In 1973, Elle & Vire created the first cream that can be stored outside of the refrigerator. This fluid, rich cream from Normandy is ideal for all your cooking uses." Well, I'm not using this exact version - my box doesn't have the "easy to spot on the shelves, thanks to the new green checked packaging," but the one I am using does best when it hasn't been refrigerated [so, then, why is all of the Elle & Vire cream in the refrigerated dairy section?]. Oh, and who knew they made a "light" version? I have never, ever seen it on our dairy shelves, here, in The Sandbox!


  1. It's so strange, the little differences (and of course the BIG differences). I buy Elle & Vire Light cream here in Muscat. I use it in Vodka Penne :)

    We aren't coffee people. We also get the flavoured refridgerated liquid Coffee Mate stuff here too.

    I think it's a lot to do with being lazy, and not very industrious that they don't reach out to expand their inventories.

  2. "I think it's a lot to do with being lazy, and not very industrious that they don't reach out to expand their inventories." Never gave that much thought, AIO. I think you're probably on to something! Good point. Very good point.

    Must be nice to have Vodka Penne. Next time you leave a comment like "that" I'm deleting you. :) [I read your post about your guests and what they consumed before they left. I know what beverages you have available that I don't!]

  3. Is tea or coffee the main choice of hot drink for Saudi's?


  4. I'd say more tea than coffee - and Arabic coffee is nothing like American coffee. I've never seen anyone take cream in Arabic coffee. No need. It is like "tan" colored water with some flavor - but not coffee. Turkish coffee on the other hand... Yum!


Site Meter