Thought for Food Food

Picture this: Food-related cartoons

We desperately need some humour in these morbid times: even better if the subject is food

The more things change, the more they remain the same. Or at least that’s true when it comes to the media and war. A few days ago, when India and Pakistan were telling us who was mightier of the two, some of our television anchors sounded like generals ready to lead the battle. I was reminded of that when I saw an old cartoon depicting a scene from a day during the Second World War. Things haven’t changed much in these 70-odd years. A British family is at breakfast and reading the newspapers. The son has a question: “Father, would not the best way to conduct the war be to let the editors of the newspapers take charge of it?”

The cartoon from Punch opened up when I was looking for some humour on the Net. The trigger was a book that a dear friend had sent across. Edited by David Remnick and called Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink, it makes for a delightful read, and I will, by and by, talk about how it captures food. But right now, I’d like to focus on its cartoons that deal with the subject.

Off with the head

There is one in which a Neanderthal couple is sitting by a fire inside a cave. A huge mammoth lies next to them. “I think we over-ordered,” says the man to the woman. In another, two vultures are discussing their dinner. “It was a good rotting carcass, but it wasn’t a great rotting carcass,” says one to the other.

Food has often been the subject of cartoons. I particularly remember one in Mad magazine in its ‘Don Martin’ series. Says Mad on its Facebook page in an April 12, 2013, post: “On this day in 1958, the Flemish Open air museum opened in Bokrijk, Belgium. To commemorate this historic event, we proudly present this classic Don Martin cartoon.”

The cartoon shows a man getting ready for what looks like a delicious roast in a fancy restaurant. Three waiters are tending to him, and one’s face can’t be seen because the huge roast is placed on a tray in front of him. A waiter takes a sharp knife and cuts the roast into small slices while the eager diner ties his bib under the chin. Zit zit zit zit zap zat SWZAP, the knife goes. The last cel tells us that the waiter’s head has been neatly chopped off along with the roast. Typically Don Martin — so morbid that it’s comic.

Yes, I know, cartoons or comics don’t sound funny when related in this prosaic manner. But I have been chuckling away to myself over these old Punch and New Yorker cartoons. One cartoon has two cannibals looking fondly at an athletic leg wearing a sneaker. “I just love fast food,” says one to the other. In another, Eve is holding an apple and telling Adam, “We’d better wash it first.” From The New Yorker, I love this one. It has a man who has reached the top of a mountain peak, in search of a guru and the answer to one of the mysteries of the world. And this is what the ascetic says: “If I told you the secret of making light, flaky piecrust, it wouldn’t be much of a secret any more, now would it?”

Close your eyes and picture the scene, and laugh out aloud. In these days of strife, we could all do with some humour.

The writer likes reading and writing about food as much as he does cooking and eating it. Well, almost.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 11:52:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/picture-this-food-related-cartoons/article26673218.ece

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