Today I’m compelled to depart from Roger the Retro Chef’s usual Wednesday feature, “A Wok on the Wild Side,” to issue a shattering warning! Put DOWN your Velveeta on toast points and remove the Maraschino cherries from the Manhattan in your amber rock tumbler lest you choke when I tell you that the Pyrex pan in which you plan to cook the Sour Cream Tuna Noodle Bake from Sunday’s “Comfort Cuisine” column might explode in your oven! Alas, what is this world coming to if we can no longer trust Pyrex to bake and serve our Vitello Tonnato intact?
Here’s the story that unhinged me. Yesterday my Aunt Cha Cha (source of that ravishing recipe for Riviera Roquefort Log) forwarded me an e-mail from her best friend’s friend Lois (she of the Skewered Avocado and Chicken Mole), who had forwarded her this truly alarming post on www.kitchenqueries.com from a gentleman named Arthur:
About 5:30 PM there was a loud bang from the kitchen. Sylvia opened the oven door and the Pyrex dish had shattered into a million pieces. The roast beef (our first in many months) was peppered with small shards of very sharp glass. Normally, I am quick to inform Sylvia she did something stupid. However, this time she was nowhere near the stove when it blew.
After scrubbing the oven with Mr. Muscle and settling for a dinner of frozen pizza (which was first manufactured by the Celentano Brothers of Verona, New Jersey in 1957), Arthur Googled “exploding Pyrex dishes” and got ten million hits. Why? Back in the good old days, Corning made its dishes with borosilicate glass. In the 80s, they sold the rights to World Kitchen, which switched production to China, where they substituted soda lime glass, which was scads cheaper. Glass made with this new formula develops microscopic cracks and when moisture gets trapped inside and is subjected to heat … VOILA! You have a baking bomb destined to go KABOOM!
“Now Roger,” I hear you twitter (using the old-fashioned meaning of that verb). “Are you getting hysterical over another culinary myth?” Mea culpa. I confess I was wrong to flip out over the false rumor that Lipton had replaced dried onions with crinkled soy protein in its soup mix. But when I checked out detonating Pyrex on www.snopes.com, their verdict was “It’s TRUE!”
My advice: Henceforth, cease cooking in Pyrex unless you can ATTEST to its being at least 25 years old. My casserole dishes were handed down from my Great Aunt Sophie (along with her recipe for Pepsi Cola Cake with Broiled Peanut Butter Frosting), so I trust they are safe. But I swear on my heart-shaped Jell-O mold I’ll never boil water in a measuring cup of indeterminate age. Lie all we want to about our own DOBs, dearies, but verify the provenance of your Pyrex.
They say “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” A new homily which I am hereby coining is that “Small truths are traumatic!” I feel as though the world as we know it is breaking apart.