Take Me Down to the Paradise Grocery

Especially in these stressful economic times, the grocery budget is one of those budgets that absolutely must be tightened. Our household is no exception. I’m a dedicated coupon-er, and I work hard to make sure we have enough food on the table at the most affordable prices. My problem though? I am a foodie.

According to Merriam-Webster, a foodie is:

a person having an avid interest in the latest food fads.

A foodie used to be known as a gourmand, gourmet, or epicurean.  Today though, foodie suffices.  I personally wouldn’t limit the definition to an interest in the latest food fads.  I would describe a foodie as someone who loves food.  Someone who loves the texture, the taste, the simplicity, and the complexity of all foods.  Most foodies I know appreciate a recipe for one of the ultimate comfort foods – macaroni and cheese, just as much as a complex one for ceviche.  Most thrill to a new twist on sushi, while at the same time finding themselves ecstatic upon tasting an apple pie that reminds them of what their grandmother used to bake.  Most of us have more recipes ripped out of magazines than we’ll ever get to, more cookbooks sitting on shelves than there are people in our immediate families, and more recipes and recipe sites bookmarked on our computers than is necessary.  We try new foods and food combinations, and revere old ones.

It makes it really difficult to grocery shop then.  While I love shopping for shoes and clothes as much as the next girl, it’s something I only do when the money hasn’t been spent on a new dishwasher, oil change, or doctor bill.   I love shopping for books almost as much as I love breathing, but when I already have 357 of them sitting on the floor of my room – okay!  I exxagerate.  I only have 12! – I’m hesitant to plunk down another $20 on something I might not get to for another 8 months.  But food… Oh, food!  That’s a different story….

By its very nature, I’m required to shop for food at least weekly.  While I must buy milk, it’s difficult to walk by the cheese aisle where Brie with a cherry, brown sugar glaze is sold.  Or when I see a mango pico de gallo prepackaged in the produce section, I get a little weak in the knees.  So it’s not a stretch to say that when I visit Jungle Jim’s in Cincinnati, I feel like I’m a gambler that’s gone to Vegas.

Jungle Jim’s is a foodie’s paradise.  It’s unlike any grocery store you’ve ever been to…. sort of like Disney World meets Super Kroger’s or something.  It’s not like Trader Joe’s, or Whole Foods, or Costco.  It really is different.  I wish my description could do it justice, but it can’t.  Still, I’ll try…

To begin, when you drive into the parking lot, you’re welcomed by a sign that says “FoodieLand.”  That’s your first clue that this isn’t your average grocery shopping experience.

When you go inside, well, you’re greeted by animatronics a la Disney throughout the store.  There is a Campbell’s Soup can hanging from the ceiling, a lion dressed as Elvis singing in the candy section…

The Lucky Charms leprechaun sings near the produce section.

But this is the least of it….  There are sections of the store devoted to cheeses, cakes,

cigars, olives, bread, candy, organic foods, meats,

cookware, huge tanks of live fish, rice, spices, chocolates,

pastas, … and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Throughout the vast space, there are massive sections devoted to foods from different countries.

In Mexico, you’re greeted by Pedro…

In France, by a charming little “chalet” with ivy growing on the walls…

In England, you’re welcomed to Sherwood Forest by Robin Hood, and his treasure stored in a giant tree overhead…

It’s utterly amazing.  To put it mildly.  Even the bathroom has been rated the #1 best bathroom in America.  You think you’re entering a port-a-potty, but it’s really nice, and really clean inside…

But honestly?  It’s all about the food.  Just about anything you want to find, you can buy here.  Black Dutch chocolate?  Check.  Buffalo burgers?  Check.  Spices to make your own Indian curry?  Check.

We once took a friend who wanted a special kind of Norwegian cheese that he could only find in Minnesota.  He told us it would be impossible to find.  But he found it!

For foodies, Jungle Jim’s is a must-go destination.

I go, and I don’t live in Cincinnati.  I live about 5 hours away.  I visit family in Cincinnati.  And when I go, I always go to Jungle Jim’s.  If I didn’t have family to visit, I’d probably still make the trip every so often.  If you’re a foodie and you can go, I highly recommend it.  You won’t be disappointed.  Trust me.


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