Field of Science

Big Thumbs Up for Jungle Jim's

The Phytophactor escaped from Lincolnland for a couple of days to present a research seminar at at Miami University in Ohio. In an academic sense that was quite profitable, but from a recreational perspective, the big event was spending an afternoon at Jungle Jim's market located on Dixie Hwy. just north of Cincinati. As a botanist who teaches about economically important plants and spends a lot of time in the tropics, markets are fascinating places. Unfortunately here in North America, most of our markets have become sanitized, prepackaged, fabrications of true markets. Jungle Jim's is not a true market in the sense of having numerous vendors hawking their wares in a sensory pleasing jumble of activity, but you have the Phactor's word that you have never, ever set foot in a North American market like this one. It's sheer size is awe inpiring, and it seems to have more of everything than any other market anywhere (image of part of the hot sauce aisle). On this particular Saturday, all 34 checkout lines were in business. The produce section, my favorite part, had rambutan, dragon's head, mangosteen, white and black sapote, durian (although frozen), Thai eggplant, lotus root, and fresh galangal for sale, which is only appropriate for a place that started out as a roadside fruit stand. Now the Phactor has had all of these before, but it's great to see them for sale in a market in middle America. Mrs. Phactor got to stock up on her favorite passion fruit concentrate. People have died from exhaustion after getting lost in the wine section and being unable to find their way out, or maybe that was after too much tasting. And for you food wimps out there, Jungle Jim's even has a section for, yes, American food, wonderbread and cheese whiz. So, if you're in the Cincinati area, set aside about 3 hours, and have yourselves a ball.


Sally said...

Yes, but was there gobo? (I know, too easy...)

I recognize some of those, but what, pray tell, is dragon's head? (Sturtevant only gives me dragon-root and dragon-tree; well, and dove's dung... yum)...

The Phytophactor said...

>>what, pray tell, is dragon's head?<<
Dragon fruit, the head part may be my error that threw you off, is the fruit of Hylocereus undulatus a tropical cactus. The fruits are reddish-pink with prominent fleshy perianth parts protruding, and in SE Asia, where the fruit is common and popular they needed a catchy common name, although all cacti are native to the neotropics. The fruit is filled with a firm white to pink flesh in which are embedded hundreds of tiny black seeds. The flowers are huge and open at night for bat pollination.
And gobo, you had to ask? First time at JJ's after wandering through the huge produce section the Phactor was mildly disappointed that there were no Thai eggplant. Then the helpful clerk asked if I had looked in the
Asian produce section? There were 3 varieties of Thai eggplant.