The Pyrex I grew up with was always clear and, frankly quite boring, although extremely useful. I didn’t actually see some patterned vintage Pyrex until a couple of years ago in a charity shop, where it led to a protracted bout of nostalgia on my mother’s part which lasted all the time we were in the shop, all the way back to the car and was still going strong when we got home! She was bemoaning the fact that she didn’t know where my grandmother’s Pyrex had gone (apparently one of the lesser known attributes of our favourite glass cookware is that it can teleport – either that or my Nan must have been incredibly heavy handed because as we know, Pyrex tends to bounce when you drop it) and that she would “really love” to have some vintage Pyrex of her own. That is when I began to worry she was coming down with something, as a less committed cook than my mum is very hard to find! She does it because she has to and I have never known her look at any item of kitchenware before with anything other than thinly disguised contempt or abject scorn. I’m the one in the house who enjoys the culinary arts and most of the specialist gizmos we own are mine, so I thought I would take advantage of this unexpected maternal enthusiasm for ovenware to try and encourage her to become more adventurous at mealtimes. I fired up the laptop, tapped in “vintage Pyrex” and several hours later was hooked (and also the proud owner of a pink snowflake casserole and divider, both with lids – thank you eBay!).
Several months later my collection had grown considerably (by the way, I never did get my mum any but luckily she’s happy just to admire mine, as long as no-one expects her to cook with it!) but i was still missing what had rapidly become my own personal holy grail – a blue daisy casserole dish (when I say casserole dish I really mean absolutely anything blue daisy, so obsessed had I become). I’d seen blue daisy online occasionally but it was way too expensive for an impoverished teenager like me. Many of my pieces had been gifts from older family members who still had vintage Pyrex in regular use and couldn’t quite see the sudden desirability of their well worn dishes. Friends and family members also kindly combed car boot sales and charity shops on my behalf and being in foreign parts didn’t prevent them from hitting the Pyrex trail for me. My paternal grandparents live in mainland Europe and grandma sent me her vintage dishes and then started to make enquiries of her fellow ex-pats. Grandma’s own Pyrex was always white with flowers, not my favourite but still welcome additions to my burgeoning collection. It has to be said that Grandma was somewhat bemused by my quest and seemed to think that my collection was something to do with making a modern art installation (whether this was due to Grandma’s being hard of hearing and consequent penchant for getting the wrong end of the stick or my father’s allegedly ‘puckish’ sense of humour it is impossible to tell) but she was still gamely searching for me.
It was then that my sister and I went over to visit our grandparents. Grandad drove us back to their house and was busy telling us about their garden and the little village they’d recently moved to, from a nearby busy town. We noticed an elderly lady with a small ball of fur on legs standing by their front gate. Grandad explained that most houses in the village put a bowl of water out by their front gate for passing dog walkers to use (or more usually their pets!) as it was always so hot. I expect you’ve guessed where I’m going with this…as we passed through the gate en route to grandma, I happened to glance down at the dog bowl and it was the blue daisies I’d been tearing the south of England apart to find! Despite having been used for several months as the canine equivalent of Starbucks it was (once washed) in perfect condition and it’s lid was found hiding in grandma’s ‘odds and ends’ cupboard. When I told her that this was the highly prized dish I’d been looking for, she told me, in all seriousness that it couldn’t possibly be as all Pyrex is either clear or white with flowers or vegetables! Since then my grandparents have retired back to England and she’s seen my collection many times. She thinks it’s all very pretty but she’s still not convinced it’s really Pyrex!
NOTE: The animal lovers among you need not be concerned, no animals were harmed in the making of this blog as I did replace the water bowl with an old plastic bowl. The vintage Tupperware collectors among you might want to pop over to my grandma’s old house…