[Maria Amparo] Escandon, an avid cook, makes no such mistakes. Her rendition of the dish is masterful. The chicken is covered with a lush pale orange sauce lightly flavored with fiery, smoky chipotles. To make it handsomer, she sprinkles the sauce with toasted sesame seeds and slim dark red rings cut from dried California chiles.
Escandon wrote the novel in English and translated it into Spanish. The English version was published by Simon & Schuster. The Spanish-language edition, titled "Santitos," is distributed by Bantam Doubleday Dell. Escandon also wrote the screenplay for the film "Santitos," which was shown recently in Los Angeles.
She carried Esperanza's chicken to a dining room table set in formal Mexican style. Outside, another table showed off hand-painted Talavera plates from Puebla, tin place mats from Oaxaca and green- and-blue stemware from Guadalajara. Here, Escandon placed a large black molcajete filled with fresh tomatillo-cilantro salsa. Slices of queso fresco and avocado, arranged at one side, were meant to be eaten with the salsa, taco-style. This was Soledad's Cheese Appetizer, named for another character in the novel.