Jungle Jim and his Gastronomical Wonderland

May 5, 2008 at 2:43 pm Leave a comment

Urbanite fans of Fairway, Wegman’s and Whole Foods take a deep breath. This weekend I visited a foodie’s wonderland where I found durians, tamarind pulp, hundreds of honeys (see above), grape leaves, and 48 types of rice. Where can one find such delights? Fairfield, Ohio, of course.

Jungle Jim’s has been a passion-driven business ever since the zany Jim Bonaminio founded it in 1971. Now a 300,000 square foot destination for tourists and locals, Jim’s fingerprints are everywhere, from the Elvis-singing animatronic lion to the mariachi band playing in front of the beer “cave.”

In an age of megastores and in a state where chainstores rule, it is astounding how Jungle Jim’s survives and keeps growing. That JJ can support Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, and Malaysian sections begs the question of where are these shoppers coming from. Is Ohio secretly more diverse than we ever thought, or is the American palate becoming more cosmopolitan? More pictures after the jump. –Kat

Giant cheese display

Native to Southeast Asia, durians, known as the “King of Fruits,” are the smelliest fruit in the world

Um?

Jungle Jim himself

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