As those of you who have been following this blog have probably picked up, it is no longer active. The existing posts will stay up for reference, but I am no longer adding new content. Thanks for a fun two years! ~Tamara

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Jungle Jim's

Yesterday I left off with our departure from the Cincinnati Zoo for "another adventure"—that adventure was at Jungle Jim's International Market in Fairfield, OH. Here's why I saved it for a post of its own:

Yes, it is a market specifically for foodies! Who has always praised this place to the skies, so we had to check it out while we were in the area. We soon saw that it was called "Jungle Jim's" for a reason. This is the entrance from the parking lot:

Giant giraffes. And a waterfall. At a supermarket.

Per Who's instructions, we picked up one of these as we entered.

The store is big enough to merit a map. It doesn't look that big when you enter, and we were initially disappointed, because all you see is the American section there at the bottom. But it opens out towards the back where the interesting stuff is.

As we passed through the cheeses…

…and the wine section (though we don't drink alcohol, it was impressive to see an entire liquor store packed in there, not to mention the fine wine room and beer cooler), we stumbled across these:

Porter potties. Who said we should go into the porter potties, and we did…to find enormous bathrooms on the other side! The women's room was decked out in more tropical decorations, palm trees and all.

Jungle Jim is big on decorations, by the way. An animatronic bear dressed like Elvis sang by the candy. Robin Hood's horde of treasure was hidden in an enormous tree trunk that straddled the British/Australian section. And of course, another animatronic band played inconspicuously on top of the SS Minow.

Sweetie was there for the decorations, but I was there for the food. I couldn't photograph everything in the store that caught my eye, because the vast influx of images would have broken Blogger. But you'll just have to take my word that almost anything you could want from any country is in that store, and these are only the most novel to me. The candy section had regional treats galore, as well as every flavor of Jelly Belly in bulk…

…and a novelty that I would have snapped up just because of the packaging, but for the $3 price tag.

The produce section contained almost all of the fruits and vegetables that I'd seen on others' blogs, but never in real life:

Fresh rhubarb (I've only used frozen--and that's Sweetie's arm there, not mine), "ugli" fruit, daikon radish, and kiwano (horned melon).

Jungle Jim's also sells fresh fish.

Really fresh fish.

A hefty supply of Asian foods, of course. Among the products I wished we could buy but couldn’t (partly because a lot of them were frozen and wouldn't survive the drive back) included frozen pre-made pao for steaming, green tea and taro and lychee ice cream pops, and boxed bean and tea-cream-filled mochi. I discovered that there's such a thing as "Men's Pocky"…

…which are apparently chocolate-covered cookie sticks that are more masculine than other chocolate-covered cookie sticks…And Giant Pocky.

My second favorite ethnic section was of course the German sweets.

It took a lot of willpower and reminders of big expenses to come to resist walking away with a box of every flavor of biscuit.

I also made stops in the Middle Eastern, Italian, French, Irish, Scandinavian, and Greek rooms. On the way out we passed the soda pop and health foods sections. You'd think, being the Amateur Nutritionist, I would have snapped some shots of the health food section. But since America is the country that originated meal-replacement protein bars and organic high-fiber cereals, there wasn't much there that you couldn't find in the health section of any big grocery chain. To be entirely honest, Jungle Jim's doesn't have anything in any section that you couldn't find in local specialty stores (or online) these days—the novelty is that it's all in one big place.

It also doesn't sell only food. The cookery section was about as large as the Kitchen store at the mall and had pans of every size, plus gadgets galore. If, one day, I want to bake madelines in the shape of butterflies or cakes in the shape of cruise ships…

I'll know where to look.

We spent an hour and a half in the store just looking around, but we did emerge with some purchases.

1) A coconut. Sweetie was so happy to buy a brown coconut for himself; it's on his Bucket List (and mine) to break and eat one raw.

2) A candied-rose chocolate bar from France and a bottle of soda made from the juice of California wine grapes, as a present to AMIL for Mother's Day. I would have picked up something for my mother too, but she wouldn't want me spending $$$ on shipping when she can get anything she wants from the plethora of specialty shops in Southern California.

3) A can of jackfruit. The one thing I told Sweetie I would absolutely buy if we found it in the store was jackfruit. Lori wrote about this giant fruit from Brazil in this post last month, with a recipe for jackfruit muffins that I've been wanting to try ever since. Unfortunately, I can't open the can until we come back to Japan, because it would not be wise to polish off a dozen+ muffins in three days.

Verdict on Jungle Jim's: it was a fun place to spend an hour while we were in town, but nothing to go out of your way for. Sweetie was a little disappointed that the attractions were sparser than Who and intimated--he was hoping for an all-out jungle. But if you're stranded in southern Ohio and just can't find the horned melons or lychee ice cream you've been craving all your life, now you know where to look :D


  1. fun! i've always wanted to go there. i just wish it was a little closer for a day trip!

  2. Jackfruit -- I remember jackfruit in Singapore...

  3. That place looks insane! It has everything and more! I would have stayed HOURS there.


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