The Apocryphal Tale of the Octopus Liver

Before we begin, let me quickly introduce my dad…

Panel 1: water bubbling. Panel 2: a man wearing a Greek fisherman's hat emerges from the water. Panel 3: He holds up a sea urchin and says "yum!" Panel 4: Child me is standing on the beach. I say "You're ... going to eat that?" my dad (still in the water) says "The row is a delicacy!" Panel 5: he eats the cracked-open sea urchin. Panel 6: I am horrified.

My dad wore a Greek fisherman’s hat everywhere. My dad cooked squid spinach. My dad was notorious for eating unusual things, particularly seafood. He told us which flowers in our garden were technically edible and snacked on them. He fossicked in rock pools and consumed their contents.

We thought it was excellent. As kids, we showed our appreciation through gleeful declarations of how grossed out we were accompanied by general screaming. He retired the fisherman’s hat sometime during my teenaged years, but otherwise remains as is.

This is the tale of the octopus liver. It happened when I was about eleven or twelve. It is an incident of some contention in our household. There have been denials, arguments, blatant lies.

Older modern-day Dad looking cross, saying: "There was no octopus liver"

But this is how I remember it…

It started, logically enough, with an octopus. We caught the eldritch horror in a net while camping. It oozed through the mesh, tearing it wider, and nearly escaped the eskie. It was gross, horrifying, and absolutely amazing.

Panel 1: octopus tentacles burst from an eskie. Dad is trying to put the lid on. Some tentacles disappear off the side of the panel ... Panel 2: tencales following two children screaming "eeeeeeee!" Panel 3: tentacles following child-me screaming "eeeeeeeee!"

I believe it ended up cooked and eaten. That is generally what one does with caught seafood, but I have no firm memory of it.

That is, except for the liver.

Panel 1: older, modern-day dad looking cross saying "I SAID there was no octopus liver!" Panel 2: Older, modern-day dad looking thrilled at his own cleverness, saying "... because octopuses don't have livers! It was a hepatopancreas! An organ that combines the function of both a liver and a pancreas!"

I remember very clearly because it went into the freezer, and I was in a habit of keeping track of questionable freezer content.

My freezer diligence began a little while earlier when dad killed our excess roosters (we were promised one rooster and four chickens, but we got five roosters), put them in the freezer, and talked often and lovingly of cock a vin (a French recipe for cooking roosters—not whatever you were thinking). I would not eat ex-pets, even if they had been shouty arseholes. An anxious child and a fussy eater (by my dad’s standards), I counted frozen roosters every time we were having chicken anything.

And so, after the octopus, whenever I rummaged in the freezer for ice-cream, I double checked the icy little parcel of liver was safely tucked away.

Older, modern-day Dad looking put out and a bit confused that you don't get it. Says: "Hepatopancrease"

And I waited.

Until one day …

Child-me is sitting on my bed reading, another small child (sister) burst in the door shouting "He's eating it!"

It began.

Modern-day Dad looking confused. saying: "Shelfish hepatopancreases are a delicacy. You can cook it in butter and use it as a sauce. It wasn't weird to try it with octopus."

Which, with hindsight, is an almost plausible explanation. Almost plausible, because in reality he didn’t cook it in butter and use it as a sauce, he cooked it in the microwave.

Panel one: octopus liver in microwave. Panel 2: "BANG" from inside microwave. Liver is splattered all over the inside. Panel 3: from inside the splattered microwave looking out--three kids horrified and screaming 'eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!'

… Without pricking it first. I added the microwave to my list of Things To Be Anxious About In The Kitchen and quietly avoided using it for a very long time.

But that’s not the end.

Panel 1: Dad at table. Liver is in bowl in front of him and he is scooping it with a spoon. Panel 2: three kids watch, concerned. Panel 3: Dad raises spoon and opens mouth

Panel 1: Three kids watching, alarmed. Panel 2: Dad puts spoon and liver into mouth. Panel 3: three kids watching, nauseated.

Panel 1: Dad is chewing and his expression says he regrets everything. Panel 2: three kids screaming "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" Panel 3: Dad smiles, revealing teeth covered in octopus ink

The moral of this story is my dad kicks your dad’s butt, always prick your cephalopod hepatopancreases before you microwave them, and definitely don’t forget to remove the ink gland.


First up, a big thank you to my dad for being endlessly interesting and an excellent sport! I’m not sure he entirely understands why I always found this episode so funny (or why his insistence that it was a hepatopancreas and not a liver was so adorabley dad-funny that I worked it in), but he still played along when I asked if he would mind if I wrote (the version I remember) down and showed it to the internet. That’s love.

I’m not sure if it’s necessary to say this, but just in case … my dad is a marine biologist and has passed exams on which rock-pool discoveries are edible and which are certifiable jerks who will stab you with venom* that paralyses your autonomic nervous system, potentially shutting down your lungs and suffocating you. So probably don’t follow his lead in picking up and eating random things unless you also have some sort of relevant knowledge/experience and know what’s what.

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* That’s right, I know the difference between venom and poison. You may swoon now.

26 responses to “The Apocryphal Tale of the Octopus Liver”

  1. Bryntin Avatar

    If my kids are anywhere near as funny and talented as you are Lucy then I suspect I have planted some tales that’ll be grow to be part of family legend like this.
    Nice one Dad, good job! ;)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lucy Grove-Jones Avatar

      Thank you. If I ever successfully procreate I will make sure to create new opportunity for ridiculous parental stories. Pay it forward, as it were.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. betunada Avatar

    and I thought there were borderlying exotericky pause-eye-tivvlee weeeeurd thingations about my family (espesh the pair-rents) but your story is, rite now, an 11 on the scale of 9.5

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lucy Grove-Jones Avatar

      The octopus liver tale is, admittedly, the diamond of my weird family things story collection.


  3. Claudia McGill Avatar

    I think I might die laughing. This is hilarious and loving, all at once, and your illustrations are just…perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lucy Grove-Jones Avatar

      Glad you enjoyed it!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. magickmermaid Avatar

    And here I thought I was being adventurous by eating calamari :)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The Hinoeuma Avatar

    That was hysterically funny…the story, the drawings… I had tears streaming down my face.

    It also reminded me of ‘Finding Nemo’… “You made me ink!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lucy Grove-Jones Avatar

      Thanks! It’s great to hear you found it funny!


      1. The Hinoeuma Avatar

        You have an interesting dad.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. ustome Avatar

    I loooooovvvveeeee this.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wilt Avatar

    Now that’s how you show and tell a story. Bravo! You have a cinematic brain, Lucy.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dina Avatar

    very funny and your dad is just adorable…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. itsmayurremember Avatar

    EEEEEEEE, that last illustration of your dad. I share your reaction in that

    Liked by 1 person

  10. actualconversationswithmyhusband Avatar

    This… was a journey for me. My reactions, in order:

    1) Cool hat!
    2) Wait… Octopuses don’t have livers!
    3) HA! See?
    4) Sexing chicks is basically guessing
    5) Oh no…
    6) DUDE. Always vent what you nuke!
    7) Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it!
    9) Yes. Yes he does.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lucy Grove-Jones Avatar

      1) It was.
      2) & 3) Correct. Well done.
      4) Yes. And you’d think we’d end up with half half, kind of like tossing coins. But no. All dudes.
      5) Oh yes


  11. The Lockwood Echo Avatar

    This has to be one of the grossest yet funniest thinks I’ve read. My hand went to my mouth, my heart and my eyes. Not necessarily in that order. Just so utterly brilliantly told. A masterpiece. ;)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. memadtwo Avatar

    I love this!
    Continual arguments in our family about stories that we each remember in (different) vivid details. But of course I know mine is the correct one. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Val Avatar

    Haha! That’s hysterical! (My dad was a doctor and also had a… um… way with things that other people didn’t… like his muttering the words ‘grace after meals’ when he farted after dinner! These scientific dads are a scream, aren’t they?!)

    I love the microwave bits of your post! I did the same with chestnuts in the oven – forgot to pierce them. But instead of exploding where they were, they peppered my kitchen walls with their wilfulness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lucy Grove-Jones Avatar

      Scientific parents are a whole different level of excellent. ‘Grace after meals’ is an amazing phrase.

      Liked by 1 person

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