Wednesday, 24 April 2013

FCC Field Study Trip: Part II (Fairfield)

It took less than an hour from Findlay Market and our first stop in Cincinnati to get to the original, Fairfield location of Jungle Jim's International Market (there's a second, recently opened location in Eastgate). I've been to Jungle Jim's only once (this past August, as part of my visit to Cincy) and even then it was an overwhelming experience. This time around, we only had a little over two hours to explore the six acres of space, an establishment that I affectionately refer to as the Toys 'R Us for foodies. As most of our field study trip participants had never been to Jungle Jim's, and since there are no guided tours on weekends (because of the high volume), I put together a brief scavenger hunt that guided them through the market. Below, you'll find the scavenger hunt script, along with accompanying site photos to introduce you to different areas of the market. Of course, for the true Jungle Jim's experience, I'd encourage you to check out the market the next time you're in the area!

As you go through Jungle Jim's, pay particular attention to the way items are arranged, as well as how different cultures are represented.  What seems to be underrepresented? Is a particular region/community overrepresented? Are there any representations that are completely inaccurate? How about surprisingly accurate? Who is the audience? What might their goal be in presenting and selling all of these items under one roof? 
Cheese Shop. If you can find the Big Cheese (frankly, it's not that tough to miss), check it out. How much does it weigh? What kind of cheese is the Big Cheese?

Coffee Bar. Need some caffeine at this point? Skip over the Starbucks and make your way to the Coffee Bar. Even if you're just as energized without the roasts, check them out anyway and ask from where they source their local beans. (ps/ If coffee isn't your thing, the Coffee Bar also carries 20 varieties of loose-leaf teas.)

Candy. Over in the Candy section, Elvis is present to entertain passersby, while M&Ms stand guard in front of candy displays. What are their color-coordinated counterparts which sit at the bottom of the confectionery collections?

"Asian." (Note: Indian ingredients are marked separately.) As we pass the international produce we find ourselves in the midst of aisles dedicated to more than 10 Asian countries. What East Asian structure welcomes shoppers to this continent?

Gourmet Galeria. Passing the above structure, and heading into Europe, a collection of cookware is visibly displayed in the Gourmet Galeria. Within this section is a pile of blue cookware. What is the name of this cookware and from which country does it originate? 

European. Above the English section is a sign posted on a tree. How much is the reward for a well-known literary character?

Indian. Over in India, an actual taxi from India hangs above some food. How many wheels (that would theoretically touch the ground) does it have?  
Hot Sauce. At its Eastgate location, the Jungle Jim's firetruck is grey; here's it's red. But both signify you've found the aisles of hot sauces. What is your best approximation for the number of different hot sauces Jungle Jim's has to offer?

European [Village]. You've passed the Mercado Gigante and are in search of European Village, a section of the story with specific ingredients ranged by country. Step into Holland and look carefully for a blue house. What color is its roof? 
Specialty Oils: Balsamic. As you exit any of the European Village houses you should be able to see shelving units full of different balsamic vinegars. Which is the oldest age of balsamic you can find? [This is the oldest one I found.]


As part of our debriefing at Rue Dumaine (part three of our field study trip in the following post), we focused on reactions and insights of our varied experiences at Jungle Jim's. Rather than outlining our wide range of opinions, I do want to conclude this post with a few points to consider. And if you've got thoughts of your own you'd like to share, please do so in the comments section! 
  1. In contrast to the publicly-owned Findlay Market, what restraints and/or freedoms exist with privately-owned Jungle Jim's? What's the role of each in promoting local versus global gastronomies?
  2. With Jungle Jim's being as large as it is, there's a spectrum to consider between breadth and depth. What does it mean for the market to exist with its diverse collection of ingredients and prepared foods? What ingredients are missing? Can something be removed without negatively impacting the market's character? 
  3. How is "culture" represented throughout Jungle Jim's? Are cultures essentialised? or reified? (How far is any stereotyping effective? Is any one culture actually being stereotyped?)
  4. If we consider the clientele, what does Jungle Jim's represent for folks who don't have the access/opportunity to travel outside of the country (or beyond Southwest Ohio for that matter)? What does it represent for folks who must travel to this location specifically to get "specialty"/"ethnic" ingredients?
  5. In addition to the evident international emphasis at the forefront of Jungle Jim's personality, the market also includes as part of its six acres of space a substantial "American" section. When you think of the foods that represent this country, what would you include?
For a more extensive photo tour of the Fairfield location, click here, and click here for a photo tour of Eastgate's Jungle Jim's. For photos from my first visit, click here, and for all of the photos taken throughout our field study trip, click here.

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