A journey through Caliban

One of the most interesting places to visit near Carnegie Mellon is the Caliban Book Shop on South Craig Street, opposite Union Grill. It’s a great place to go to escape the end-of-semester workload, even if only for a short time.

If you’ve been around Craig Street, you might have noticed this bookstore, painted in navy blue with gold letters. From the outside, the color combination gives a rich, warm, welcoming impression to the people who walk by. Your time in Caliban is a trip in itself — because it is a used bookstore, you never know what you’ll find. Caliban specializes in literary first editions, including books about fine art (among other genres).

Possibly one of the best sections in any bookstore is the food section, which contains not only cookbooks and how-tos, but also books written about food.

In Caliban, you will find cookbooks dating from the 1890s to more modern volumes published last year. Because it is such a unique store, you can find books you wouldn’t be able to find in a more popular and widespread store. At the same time, even the more modern and popular cookbooks are cheaper at Caliban.

Currently, Caliban has several interesting antique cookbooks. They feature a cookbook with a one-of-a-kind metal cover called Balanced Recipes from the 1930s. Another interesting book is The Complete Hostess with art deco artwork throughout. One of the books featured is a drink and cocktail book about soda, alcoholic drinks, and bars dating back to 1897. Looking at these books is like looking back in time, since they’ve all been owned and used before.

Aside from those specialty books, Caliban also has a variety of newer books. La Cuisine de France: The Modern French Cookbook is probably a more economical piece of history, priced at $15. This book was printed in 1964. If you want to study Western cooking, studying French techniques is the best option. Another book that can be very useful for busy college life is Best Recipes from the Backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans and Jars. Priced at $9, it is a realistic option for college students. Even though the book was originally published in 1979, recipes still call for pre-packaged food ranging from condensed cream of chicken soup to canned tuna.

Books dating from other times can be very interesting, but the ingredients can be hard to find and the cooking methods are not updated to today’s lifestyle. Cookbooks published recently are also at Caliban for a lower price. One that really catches my attention is Nigella Express: 130 Recipes for Good Food, Fast by Nigella Lawson. Lawson is a British food writer who has a popular cooking show. She offers an easygoing and personal approach to cooking, which is refreshing in the age of mass-produced fast food. At Caliban, you can get her book for $18, a sharp discount from the original price of $35.

Caliban also has From Emeril’s Kitchens: Favorite Recipes from Emeril’s Resturants by Emeril Lagasse, a celebrity chef with many shows on Food Network. It is true that Caliban will not always have Lawson’s or Lagasse’s books on the shelf, but the beauty of this store lies in the fact that you do not know what you will find each time you walk in.