Spring cleaning turned up a fun, long-forgotten item, a bound copy of "Commissary Highlights, 1978-1985." As we are not all contemporaries, you may or may not remember seeing these sheets, published approximately semi-monthly, at the commissary or laying around your mother's kitchen. The forward to this compilation explains it quite well:
"Aramco has provided food for their employees through a Commissary system in one form or another since the Company was founded. The great expansion in the 70's brought a massive increase of personnel who placed great demands on the Commissary system. To better serve these customers, both old and new, a number of new services were created within the Commissary system. One of these was the introduction of the Commissary Highlights Bulletin. This book is the complete collection of the Commissary Highlights Bulletins from the first printing in February, 1978." - Marilyn Townsend
Flipping through the pages offers a revealing look at our Aramco oil compound society of that era. In addition to recipes and advice on how to use newly-stocked commissary items, the bulletins also contain information about shortages, holiday gift items, shopper Q&A's, rules and regulations, children's craft ideas, and the occasional admonishment for bad shopping behaviors. The pages make it clear this was an international society, but there are wonderful, "only at Aramco" or "only in Saudi Arabia" bits and pieces sprinkled throughout that are sure to make you smile or at least give a nostalgic nod. Where else would you read an appeal from your local grocery store to bring in your hallalas because they were almost out? Or a recipe for "Camel Fricassee with Lemon?" Or ice chitty instructions?
For grins and giggles, we will begin reproducing these online. You can enjoy them as a trip down memory lane or as an armchair anthropologist, studying the shopping trials and tribulations and the eating habits of the Aramco communities, circa 1978-1985.
Enjoy and perhaps even "bon appetit!"