I'm not one for riding in the car for hours on end with some vague destination in mind (i.e. roadtrips), but I pushed my revulsion aside and joined Ben's mom & sister on a quest for groceries that was not to be ignored. Here is a recounting of our adventures with perhaps a necessary aside first to explain why anyone who appears to be "normal" would go to such lengths to go grocery shopping.
Jungle Jim's is kind of a grocery store/amusement park. I know. What kind of a market is there out there for such a staple/novelty? Apparently, there is quite a large demographic who sees just such a need to visit this place and then purchase copious amounts of...groceries. And I should also note that I rather enjoy grocery shopping almost always.
I had heard about this place fairly recently, within the last 2 years. I subscribe to the Indy newspaper, and it was mentioned in there as a "must-see" day trip. Kooky as it sounds, it's so true! (Jungle Jim's is in a northern suburb of Cincinnati, about 1 1/2 hours from Indy.) I believe that it started as a grocery store but by happenstance and an owner who obviously has a quirky side, it kinda exploded and found some weird sort of niche of specialty foods and global influences. For example, while you're sifting through the shelves in the Thailand aisles looking for vegetarian fish sauce (it was on our list of things to find and we did find it...but then again, I also found and took a picture of vegetarian haggis), you can look up and see ginormous tanks of...fish. Swimming. Huge tanks. Many fish. Fresh. :-)
So the M-I-L and S-I-L and I loaded up and took off for this place. From Kokomo, it should take around 2 1/2-3 hours to get there. It took us 5, partly because the M-I-L and I went from Kokomo to Marion to pick up the S-I-L first before we could head southeast. And then there was road construction. And then there was heavy rain. And then there was a combination of both with a big dump truck thrown in to boot. It took us quite a while to get out of Indiana. We got turned around at one point as well simply because, well, we were talking. Easy to do, but it only cost us 15 minutes or so.
Finally, around 1 we make it to this place. We wouldn't leave for 4 hours, and we didn't do anything except, again I say with some amount of incredulity myself, shop for groceries. It's bewildering. Where to start first? This place gives guided tours and has maps at every entrance. We saw at least 2 or 3 groups of day campers going on tours, so even kids come to this place for fun!! And because my I-Ls are who they are, the first thing we had to do was find a bathroom, which leads us to the embarrassing point of the story. Right in the middle of the beer & wine section (right beside the Cold Beer Cave) are 2 port-o-pots, the portable toilets that you always find at fairs and such. We couldn't believe that for a store this size, there was only going to be one men's stall and one woman's stall. Really?!? So the three of us stand there debating and are just about ready to send the M-I-L up to check it out when a lady standing beside us, and obviously laughing at us in her head, informs us that it's just the door for the entrance. Indeed, there were lovely bathrooms inside. Color us silly.
I'm blessed to have married into a family that appreciates food and experimenting with various cuisines. At any given time, there also might be one or more vegetarians and/or one or more vegans floating among us. Right now, there is essentially both, so my M-I-L and S-I-L were looking to explore some vegetarian/vegan ingredients that aren't easily accessible at Meijer (which does, really, have a pretty decent selection for such requirements).
I'm cursed to have been married into a family that has the pace of a pack of tortoises. We examined everything, seemingly, in minute detail. Every sign. Every piece of produce. It really took us close to two hours to get past the bakery, meat section, and produce section, and we didn't even look at the meat (other than the whole hogs' heads...ewww). And then we hit other sections that I was less interested in and grew bored with quickly. I was also supposed to stay with them, though I inevitably wandered off (repeatedly), so I was kinda stuck in spots without intent to purchase. This must be what Ben feels like when he goes shopping with me.
But we meandered. We wandered. We skipped the American section completely. Four hours later, we somehow divvied up our goods and paid, and then took pictures. Fun times!! Combined, we spent over $400 (though, luckily for our household budget, I was by far the cheapest date at this party). But we also came away with some pretty cool things: quail eggs, ugli fruit, sweet crisps from Greece, a few cool bottles of wine, delicious delicious chocolate truffles, 25 lb. of sweet, perfectly ripe peaches for only $15, truffle infused olive oil, the aforementioned vegetarian fish sauce, dessert hummus, honey that has a slight flavor of butterscotch, and more. Much more!!
Thankfully, the trip home was shorter. 14 1/2 hours later, I got home with my goods. The M-I-L still had to drive 20 minutes to her house. All for the sake of good food, good company, and good adventures! Maybe, just maybe, this might become an annual adventure.
"There is no love sincerer than the love of food." George Bernard Shaw