WASHINGTON BOROUGH, N.J. – Two weeks after a Florida man found a rare pearl in his seafood, it's happened again — this time to a New Jersey man who was eating fried oysters.
Mike McHenry thought he had chomped down on a piece of shell Wednesday night and instead spit out a pea-sized pearl.
"You might break your teeth on it if you crunch down too hard," the 60-year-old Washington Township man said of his discovery at Russo's Ristorante in Washington Borough.
McHenry's find was rare, according to Gef Flimlin, a marine extension agent with Rutgers Cooperative Extension, who said 95 percent of pearls are cultured for production, unlike the naturally formed pearl McHenry found.
"It's unusual to find one in this type of oyster," McHenry said. "Like one in a million."
Last month, George Brock of Royal Palm Beach, Fla., found a rare iridescent purple pearl in his plate of steamed clams while dining in South Florida.
Russo's owner, Rick Giacobbe, said McHenry's discovery marked the first time in his 33 years in the restaurant business that a customer found a pearl in an order of oysters. He said the guy he orders seafood from is flummoxed, too.
"He said maybe once in a couple of years his girls will find something and it's a teeny tiny thing," Giacobbe said. "This was half the size of a jellybean."
While Brock's purple pearl may be worth thousands, it appears McHenry isn't so lucky.
Greg Fliegauf, who manages Fliegauf Jewelers for his uncle, thinks the pearl isn't worth much because it's misshapen and has some discoloration.
"It's a souvenir I'll put on my bar, maybe," McHenry said.