Finding Martha's Place: My Journey Through Sin, Salvation, and Lots of Soul Food
Owner of Martha's Place, a popular Montgomery, Alabama restaurant, Hawkins chronicles with simple grace the highs and lows of her life so far, revealing the inspiration and motivation behind her self-made success. The tenth of 12 children, Hawkins grew up in mid-century Alabama with little money but lots of love, and a mama who was always cooking: ""Give her a pot of peas and a dash of salt and she could make a meal for the entire neighborhood."" Heavy on honesty and charming (but clearly written) Southern syntax, Hawkins recalls her scandalous teenage pregnancy (""I was scared to drink water because I was scared I was going to drown the baby""), her marriage and subsequent divorce, the three other boys she bore, her diagnosis with and treatment for depression, and her financial struggles. The brightest passages, however, involve food; Hawkins celebrates her time in the kitchen vividly and with passion to spare: ""When you put my lima beans against your lips they feel plump, like you was smooching the back of your baby grandson's knee."" Luckily for readers who can't get to Montgomery, Hawkins completes her feel-good memoir with a few of her best-loved recipes.