Male dominated and still feudal, nevertheless it was a world of enormous privilege for this Number 7 daughter of an aristocratic Peking family who reminisces about Old China, not politically, but rather through the traditions she was brought up to obey. Like delicate Oriental art, it's all sketched with feather strokes -- at least until the Japanese occupation under which Chiang lived for more than five years before fleeing, a hair'raising 2000 miles to Chungking, then Shanghai, later to postwar Japan. But it's cuisine that provides her links back, ceremonious holiday banquets and simple family meals (not exactly kitchen casual with a servant behind every chair). Two books in one really, the China we've not read about for many years, and a cookbook. Chiang, who owns one of the country's freest restaurants in San Francisco, sensibly disputes the popular notion that haut Chinese food is easy to prepare, and she adapt. few recipes for the Western cook (at that, not many will tackle the Rube Goldberg mechanics of inflating duck skin with a bicycle pump -- for Peking Duck). An exotic lady, something of a mandarin M. F. K. Fisher.