Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Welcome to the Jungle

 Welcome to the Jungle


“Welcome to the jungle.” I know that is a line from the Cincinnati Bengals as fans walk into the stadium. It is also the phrase I use when I visit a local specialty food market called Jungle Jim’s.


There is no other market like Jungle Jim’s around. I remember when my brother-in-law and sister-in-law visited us. They have lived all over the world. They assured us they “had seen it all.” They were prepared to be unimpressed. It didn’t happen. Hours later, we finally emerged from the store and they agreed they had never seen anything like the Jungle.

I love to go to Jungle Jim’s. So much so, I included it in my novella, Courtesy Turn, which was published in an Ohio anthology called From the Lake to the River.


But here is what I love most. The store isn’t about selling stuff to different people. It’s about sharing food with all people. Even the entrance is marked in numerous languages. 


If you read last week’s post, you know my grandson surprised me with a little “tour of Japan” through a season of snack foods on Mother’s Day. The real surprise was the fact that my twenty-year-old grandson stepped out of his comfort zone and tried foods he couldn’t pronounce coming from packages he couldn’t read…and he loved it!


(If you missed that post on being adventurous, you can click HERE to read it for yourself.)


One cracker-type snack filled with a red bean paste was particularly delicious. I decided to buy more of those and surprise Joshua. Where do you go for that? Jungle Jims.

A few of the
Japanese Snacks
at  the Jungle!

The Jungle is unique. It is both a grocery store and an international market. And more. Jungle Jim’s is so much a part of Cincinnati I sometimes take it for granted. So I here is an abbreviated tour of the Jungle this week. 


Let’s start with the “more.” It may be for foodies, but there is certainly an entertainment vibe. Jungle animals and sounds greet you. Inside, animated characters entertain passersby. There is a cooking school where you can learn to prepare a wide variety of foods.


Even the bathrooms won an award. Seriously. 

The port-a-potty is a ruse.
It opens to an award winning bathroom.

All  displays are colorful and the inventory ranges from greenhouse plants and floral arrangements to housewares, pet supplies, groceries, bakery items, a meat market, vegetables and fruits from around the world, fresh seafood and fish (actually swimming in the tanks), toiletries, toys, books, “as seen on TV” items, candy, health food (Notice how I put those next to each other?) frozen foods…everything. 


There are aisles and aisles of spices, canned goods, candies, and baking supplies from nations I've never visited.


This post was never intended as an advertisement for a great local market in Fairfield, Ohio. 

It is simply this: 


Each time I visit the store, I am reminded of how diverse the United States is in terms of ethnicity and how alike we are when we come together for a meal.


Gathering around a banquet table set for the world…welcome to the Jungle.

Want to know more? Here's a link to a YouTube video with Jungle Jim himself:


And a few more pics.

Yes, this is Jungle Jim, himself.


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