The history of a French family is here served up with its ever-present concern over cooking for the Anderts often produce a true chef whose talents affect some crisis in their lives. Gabrielle's present day story -- of the hotel she built up on a reputation for classic cuisine, of the husband, now dead, who was bored and easily bedded by other women -- hinges on the choice she must make, between the dishes she excels in and the stranger she has come to love, and turns to the past to trace the pattern her family has left -- in love and in their traditional recipes. From Marthe, who founded the line of cooks and who was treated as a pagan and a witch, through her daughter Armande who ran away with gypsies and whose son Louis had preferred a cafe to a chef's cap, his son Bertrand, the Good Pig, who perfected his art through his love for the Comtesse who employed him, to his niece Solange who became great only in her cooking- comes the gossip and the old family stories that Gabrielle tells her younger sister while waiting for the day she must make up her mind between her kitchen and her lover. If gastronomes are novel readers, this should certainly be for them for elegant and tantalizing recipes are included in the story proper and the admiration for good eating is a definite quality in this liberal linealizing. And others may be attracted by its unexpected ingredients.