Living in a rural community has it's advantages...but it also has it's disadvantages. One of them is the lack of grocery stores. Up until two years ago all we had a Wally-World ten miles from us. Then we had a Kroger Marketplace come onto the scene 10 minutes away. There was much rejoicing in our small county when they held their grand opening. Starbucks. Sushi. Does it get much better?
But still, it doesn't have quite...everything. You know those items that foodies like to have access to. Weird things. Unusual things. So I was so excited when I discovered that one of the largest international grocery stores in the world existed less than an hour away.
You may have even heard of it before. The story behind this store personifies the American Dream. An individual starting out with nothing and through hard work and perseverience creating something unique and remarkable.
That individual is Jim Bonaminio and he took a simple road side stand and turned it into a a 300,000-square-foot food emporium. You can read more about Jungle Jim's on their website.
This is the exterior of Jungle Jim's. I bet your local grocery store doesn't have a zoo outside of it, jungle sounds and all. When you enter Jungle Jim's you are greated by objects like this
He's certainly not a happy ear of corn. Maybe it's because he's worried that the person that left these might return soon
Yep not quite sure what the ear of corn and Dorothy's red slippers stuffed with the witch's stockings have to do with each other, but it is Jungle Jim's after all. Oh and in case you come in looking for something as simple as a regular ole' can of Campbell's Soup, you won't have to look too far.
As I'm sure you've realized by now..Jim has quite the sense of humor. For instance this is where you can purchase by the pound any olive imaginable. At the Olive Pit.
Or better yet...how about this block of cheese...
Yes my friends you are looking at a 765 pound block of cheese! Pretty impressive huh?
Now before I explain the next picture, I just want you to get a look at it first.
My dear reader..that is a porta john. But this isn't any ordinary porta john. Because behind this door lies a full restroom. Now I know your disappointed not to get to see the real restroom...but I thought I might creep people out taking pictures in there. There might even be some law against it so I wanted to play it safe. But these "infamous" restrooms were the reason that Jungle Jim's did not allow photography in the store for many years. However, once the store was featured on several television shows, Jim decided that since the world knew about his porta john restrooms it was okay for visitors to photograph in the store now. Luck for me and my blog. smile. It's worth a visit to Jungle Jim's alone to watch people try and figure out how to use these. grin.
One of the first areas you come to when touring Jungle Jim's is the wine. It's really hard to do the wine section justice. There are just so many varieties available. Everything you can imagine from the affordable...
To the private wine lockers...yep. I want one. Okay so not really but it would be fun to say you had one. I mean would they really know I was only locking up a $10 bottle of Barefoot??
But of course if you have a special event planned than Jungle Jim's has the wine for you. Actually several selections are available.
Betcha never thought you'd see a $5000 bottle of wine on Gourmet Meals for Less. grin. Okay so technically it's $4999.99...do you think leaving that extra penny off makes someone feel like their getting a bargain? Of course once you've purchased your $5000 bottle of wine you need something to carry it home in. Jungle Jim's provides the perfect thing.
Yep. That would be a wine diaper. Now I get the concept and all. But diaper and wine are just not two words I think of putting together. A little strange if you ask me.
Now moving on to my husbands favorite part of the store.
I'm not sure if he likes it best because it's full of fancy expensive cigars, or because the kids aren't allowed to go in there thus giving him about 10 minutes alone to contemplate purchasing above mentioned fancy expensive cigars. Of course I've told him if he gets a fancy expensive cigar than I get the $5000 bottle of wine. So far it's a standoff.
As we leave the wine and cigar section of the store we move into the girl's favorite location.
Yes that is a Santa Lion Elvis...and yes it's located in the candy of course.
And if you happened to be looking for organic Amish products than you need not look any further than the horse and buggy located above your head.
Now personally all I could see was the baby peeking out of the buggy, I'm going to assume though since Jim is a most consciences proprieter that he has placed the mother in there as well.
One of the most popular sections in Jungle Jim's is the seafood. Living in the middle of the country, good fresh seafood can be hard to find.
....or dead...if you need it you can find it at Jungle Jim's.
You can tell my kiddos are foodies...because they get so excited when we enter the produce section at Jungle Jim's.
They consider it a special treat to get to pick a few unusual items to bring home and try. Gosh I love them. How many kids get giddy over picking out fruits and veggies...especially weird ones. The girl was so excited to shop with Nonna.
I on the other hand was fascinated with all of the tucked away items. It was like a treasure hunt of food. For example these adorable little quail eggs.
Of course, many of Jungle Jim's regular customers travel here for the International Foods. People from all over the world come here to find familiar items from home. It's so fun to hear all of the different languages being spoken. To see what people are purchasing. I love to try and guess what they are going to be making.
Down these aisles you can find candy and treats from Japan.
Or you could be looking for this
The party size of Red Beans Azuki flavored ice cream. Seriously, isn't that at the top of your grocery list??
Or for all of those international cajuns we get up here in the greater Cincinnati area how about every type of hot sauce ever made.
And lest you think I jest about every type of hot sauce made. I mean every. type. made.
Yep. That's a $5000 bottle of hot sauce to go with your $5000 bottle of wine. Can't make this up folks.
The boy was eyeing that bottle of $5000 hot sauce. I saw him. I said no sir you pick a less expensive bottle of hot sauce. Stick with a cheap one...say under a $100. Yep, gotta stick to that whole gourmet for less thing I got going.
One of the cutest spots in the store has to be the honey section.
Now if you happen to be looking for the English foods and by english I do not mean American. I mean British. You might have a hard time finding it.
Of course you could always just look for Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men. I'm sure he would point you in the right direction.
At Jungle Jim's no country is left out. Big or small they get a place to call their own. This is what I like to call "The Row of Nations" They are all existing in peace and harmony here at Jungle Jim's.
And of course since this is a food blog. I could not leave without giving you a glimpse of the cooking school. They offer culinary courses in everything imaginable.
In all honesty though, my favorite part of the day was getting to spend time with these people.
My dad and mom. Who I hadn't seen for 8 months. My dad is an incredible cook, so it was so much fun to take him up to Jungle Jim's. I think they really enjoyed it. Of course most of that enjoyment was just getting to be together.
No matter where it is. smile. Thanks Jungle Jim's for a fun family adventure!