A cookbook? If so, Figaro is a skit with tunes. This is a memoir in the Norman Douglas tradition of English natives transplanted for good to the air and light and soil of the Mediterranean basin. Food only happens to figure as a kind of central metaphor and leitmotiv. Gray, who for 20 years has lived with a sculptor-companion anywhere that a vein of marble dictates, knows the landscapes and people of Naxos, the Salentine ""heel"" of Italy, the coast of Catalonia, and the hills above Carrara the way one knows something encountered with bare hands and no machines. Yes, there are recipes, but they too are like direct meetings with living facts (wild chicory, fish in the sea, polenta, partridges), not formulas for people who cook with food processors and rule-books. Gray's achievement, for those who care about cooking, is to pare away usual technological layers and set forth the concrete realities of raw materials, fire (from meager fuel with its own known characteristics), and cooking tools applied to a purpose in gadgetless surroundings. The botanically-minded will treasure several chapters with detailed listings of local vegetables, mushrooms, herbs, and edible weeds. Corinna Sargood's line drawings (and witty illuminated capitals) perfectly match the text: distinct, ebullient, with a dash of astringency like the hillside weeds of which Gray writes. A gem.