On the couch

The saga of Psychiatrist cartoons rolls on, with unusual analysands in two strips that have come my way recently: a stalk of broccoli (in the winner of a contest to caption a Lonnie Millsap drawing) and a cephalopod (in a Victoria Roberts cartoon from 2012 that I stumbled on while harvesting a recent Roberts cartoon for an entirely different purpose).

But then the Psychiatrist cartoon meme is extraordinarily welcoming to bizarre patients on the couch — all manner of non-human analysands (as above) or thoroughly fictive ones (Superman and Batman are frequently in need of therapy).

The parade of patients. In my 1/1/22 posting “Our frugal cartoonists”, I examine 14 Bizarro Psychiatrist cartoons, assembled from a standard abstract pattern, or template, most of them involving either fictive patients — Batman, Waldo, Old MacDonald, Superman, two versions of Jesus — or non-human ones (a parrot, a dog, a mosquito) — or both (the Big Bad Wolf). In this tradition, the Millsap and the Roberts.

Millsap’s broccoli. With its winning caption in the 1/17/22 issue of the New Yorker:

(#1) Being left on the plate because so many people find broccoli unpalatable, due to its bitterness — see cruciferous digression below

Runners-up in the cartoon caption contest #783:

— second place: “Maybe it’s time for you to stop being so good for everyone else and just be good for yourself.” — Steven Perry, Williamsport PA
— third place: “So, tell me, do you get steamed easily?” — George Jodaitis, Woodstock CT

The cruciferous digression. From Wikipedia:

Cruciferous vegetables are vegetables of the family Brassicaceae (also called Cruciferae) with many genera, species, and cultivars being raised for food production such as cauliflower, cabbage, kale, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, mustard plant and similar green leaf vegetables. The family takes its alternative name (Cruciferae, New Latin for “cross-bearing”) from the shape of their flowers, whose four petals resemble a cross.

(#2) Four-petaled broccoli flowers; culinary broccoli is clusters of buds, but the stalks are also edible, as indeed are the flowers and the leaves (photo from the Bloomin Thyme site)

Ten of the most common cruciferous vegetables eaten by people [ — cabbage, Savoy cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Chinese broccoli / gai lan, Brussels sprouts, collar greens, kohlrabi –], known colloquially in North America as cole crops and in the UK, Ireland and Australia as brassicas, are in a single species (Brassica oleracea); they are not distinguished from one another taxonomically, only by horticultural category of cultivar groups. Numerous other genera and species in the family are also edible. Cruciferous vegetables are one of the dominant food crops worldwide. They are high in vitamin C and soluble fiber and contain multiple nutrients and phytochemicals.

Then on the bitter taste, from a Healthline page on “9 Bitter Foods That Are Good for You”:

The cruciferous family contains many bitter-tasting vegetables including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, radishes and arugula.

These foods contain compounds called glucosinolates, which give them their bitter taste and are responsible for many of their health benefits.

To get the bitterness out: blanch them (dip in boiling water briefly, discard the water), then sauté in oil with garlic (or to serve them raw, rinse in cold water to stop the cooking, and pat them dry); also, bitterness can be counteracted by salty, sweet or sour flavorings.

Roberts’s cephalopod, octopus or squid. A Victoria Roberts cartoon published in the New Yorker on 4/16/12:

(#3) It’s those thousands of suckers (meanwhile, that couch is fabulous)

A note on Roberts, who I seem not to have posted about before on this blog. From Wikipedia:

Victoria Roberts is a cartoonist and performer. A staff cartoonist for The New Yorker since 1988, Roberts’ work has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Ms. Magazine, and many other magazines and newspapers. She illustrates the Q&A weekly science question in The New York Times.

… Her style has been described as whimsical, and according to The Sydney Morning Herald, “there is delight, and childish embellishments”. In her own words, she likes “to draw fat little ladies with hearing aids, weird infants with glasses, and domestic scenes; I see things as people at home see them”.

… Since 2004, she has appeared on stage as her earliest cartoon character Nona Appleby. Nona is a kimono-clad Australian octogenarian.

… Born in Manhattan, Roberts grew up in Mexico City and Sydney.

Roberts bonus. Since this is her first appearance on my blog, I searched for some more examples of her work to post here. And found that she’s a specialist in Psychiatrist! Here are four more cartoons (from many), two from her early years at the New Yorker, two from recent years:

(#4) 12/11/89: a flamingo on the couch

(#5) 12/18/00: Santa Claus on the couch

(#6) 10/12/15: a piñata on the couch

(#7) 8/9/16: a jester on the couch

2 Responses to “On the couch”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    Brassicas: I continue to be amazed at the huge variety in growth style and culinary character of the many cultivars of that single species.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Yes, it’s a real tribute to what people can do with small differences in local varieties, using selective breeding, over long periods of time. I mean, look at dogs.

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