Kelly, being the weirdo that she is, wanted to go to the Bodies exhibit at The Cincinnati Museum. She’s got a thing for anatomy and generally the gross side of medicine. Cut to scene where I tell here in no uncertain terms will I watch a show about a man with a rare skin disease while eating a quesadilla I had just made. Whereas most girls were excited to be taken to dinner or to receive chocolates or flowers, Kelly wanted to go see artfully-styled corpses. Who am I to argue?
Saturday, we took off up to Cinci (stopping at the GAP Clearance Center in nearby Florence (Y’all!). Using our futurephones and the surprisingly-good Windows Live Directions service we made a U-turn or two and then ran smack into a long, long line of cars just outside the Museum. Hmm… could this be for the Bodies Exhibit? 1 hour later, as the lad in the parking booth told me (in order) there would be a 2-3 hour wait just to get tickets (it was 2:30 PM, they close at 5 on Saturdays) and that they only take cash. Cocking my head to the side and saying “Hmmm” (loudly) didn’t help – he apparently had seen such a tactic before. I said “Well… I don’t think I can back up,” to which he replied that I could park in the temporary lot and get some money from the ATM. Not that it mattered though. He let me through the gate and I immediately found a parking spot – not that we could use it on account of us not having the time to see the exhibit, but it felt good to stick it to those bastards! (Editor: They aren’t bastards, really. He was quite nice considering the near-riot conditions). The exhibit runs through June or July or some such, so we resolved to come back and make a day of it and a Reds game sometime after the baseball season starts. Kelly, being the wonderfully easy-to-please lady she is didn’t mind – in fact, we have a term for a failed mission: “adventures”.
We bopped around town for a little bit, got lost, looked for some store in some mall and decided to hit two food stores that we don’t have in Louisville – Trader Joe’s and Jungle Jim’s. I had heard-tell of both of these from a number of people (and from listening to WOXY – a great independent radio station in Cinci) – essentially a Whole Foods sort-of thing, but funkier. Trader Joe’s was certainly Whole Foods, but smaller, and funkier – and I’d like to have one in Louisville, but the real cake-taker here is Jungle Jim’s International Market.
Jungle Jim’s is actually in Hamilton (hometown to Hollow-Earth theorist Capt. John Symmes) out on Dixie Highway, a ways away from the city and a loooong way from your average grocery store. Pulling up to the store, you immediately notice the monorail tram jutting from the side of the store, which my Googling skills tell me was King’s Island’s old tram! But… but… why?!? Parking in the lot and walking up to the entrance, I quickly decided to stop asking. I assumed there was food on the inside, but you really couldn’t tell from the outside, which looked like a mini-golf course crossed with a zoo and a waterpark. Even the entranceway felt like I was going to Mister Toad’s Wild Ride.
Through the modest set of doors and the ceiling of the place opens into a vast – and a bit overwhelming – paradise of food. A paradise of food with an animatronic soup can on a swing over the grocery area. And an animatronic Lucky Charms band sitting on a 40-foot shrimp boat next to the half-dozen live seafood tanks. Did I mention animatronic lion Elvis in the produce area? But ya can’t take photos – that’s posted clearly on the entranceway. Luckily, they give out photo passes to some lucky photographers, like this guy: Tim Gets a Jungle Jim’s Photo Pass.
Aside from the “attractions”, the food selection is mind-blowing. The Asian section (not to be confused with the Sushi bar) has some half-dozen or more sub-sections for China, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, Vietname, and a few others. Over near the Mexican section are the two 20-foot wide, 6-foot tall walls of hot sauces (with the “Adult Themed Sauces” in a shaded case. My personal favorite? Nuclear Nipples. Imagine the label. Nearby, the roots of a giant Robin Hood-themed tree form the ceiling of the rather large English food selection. Teas? Oh yeah.
Live lobsters. Live rainbow trout. Live catfish. Live bluegill. Spanish foods. Greek foods. French foods. Fruits I’ve never seen before. A relatively modest (in comparison to the rest of the store) but varied beer selection. A huge wine selection. An amazing selection of micro-brew colas, ginger ales and root beer.
And while I initially grasped Kelly’s arm in mock fear when I first entered the store, I found myself wandering off constantly, being beckoned by whatever new and fascinating foodstuff I saw. I would later ask Kelly if we could live there. We’ll be back for sure – after all, there is only one Jungle Jim’s.
Our final cart:
1 bottle Gale’s Root Beer
4 boxes Pulparindo Mexican Tamarind Candy
1 six-pack Bison Chocolate Stout
1 bottle Arcadia Ale Coco Loco Chocolate Stout
1 bottle Flying Dog Collaborator Doppelbock Open Source Beer
1 bottle Breckenridge Vanilla Porter
1 bottle Dave’s Ultimate Insanity Hot Sauce
2 cans Mexican soda, one “Champagne”, the other “Coconut”
1 tub of hummus
1 container Mediterranean salad thing
Listen: NPR on Jungle Jim’s International Market, Oct 4 2003