Louisiana Woman Finds 11 Pearls in Oyster She Was Eating

by Matthew Memrick
(Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)

A kindergarten teacher who once found oysters disgusting nearly ate one with 11 pearls in it earlier this month.

New Orleans resident Keely Hill told The New York Post that she discovered the pearls in her mouth while eating out with friends. She ordered the last “half-dozen” in her group and started to eat them.

It was the last oyster she was eating when she made her discovery before safely spitting them out.  

“I bit it in half and felt them on my tongue…it was such a bizarre experience,” Hill told Nola.com. “I definitely ate one; I crushed it in my teeth.”

Social media posters took to the Post story, and one said the raw pearls looked like a drug. Another joked that she should have gotten a free meal out of the find. 

A Run On Big Easy Oysters?

Hill’s pearls discovery surprised Superior Seafood oyster shucker Jordan “Jay” Gallet, who said, “The most I ever got was nine.”

The “shocked” man said he counted them himself. Of the 2,500 oysters he shucks daily, he told the newspaper he finds a pearl or two per week on average.

The 32-year-old woman grew up in Kansas City and revealed she once called the shellfish “a slimy bivalve.” 

She recalled her first raw one at age 12 and decided to quit them forever. But as tastes changed, she fell in love with them years later after moving to Lousiana. After 12 years of New Orleans living, the woman warmed up to the delicacy. She’s come to believe it’s not “as gross as it appears” and eats sacks of them frequently with friends.

Now a French Quarter resident, she eats them raw and grilled at Superior Seafood and another eatery, Basin Seafood. That day she ate oysters at both restaurants.

Pearls Have Emotional Value Too

One pearl has some value, but that depends on many factors. According to The Pearl Source, one can range from $300 to $1,500. There are four types of pearls, and one particular class, a South Sea pearl, can fetch around $1,000 to $100,000 for a strand.

However, the woman said the pearls are priceless based on her connection with her late Aunt Cathy. The two were so close they had almost had a mother-daughter-like relationship.

Aunt Cathy would often tell Hill that “the world is your oyster.” 

Even though her pearls could almost make a complete necklace, she plans to make them into a ring. The largest one will go in the center of the setting.

Before her recent find, the woman told the newspaper that she had never found a pearl before in any of her oysters, and she said she’s “in contact with a lot of oysters.”