A screenshot from the show From Scratch shows the two main characters sitting next to each other at a table with concerned looks on their faces

From Scratch: A Beautiful Story About Love, Loss and Community

This short series perfectly captures the experience of watching a loved one pass away before your eyes. The director writes, “In Italy we have a saying: in dreams, as in love, all is possible.”
December 20, 2022
7 mins read

“In Italy we have a saying: in dreams, as in love, all is possible.”

-Lino, “From Scratch”

“From Scratch” is a movie adaptation of Tembi Locke’s 2018 memoir “From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home.” It’s an eight-episode limited series that tells the story of Amahle “Amy” Wheeler (played by Zoe Saldaña), an African American woman who goes on an exchange program to study art in Florence, Italy. There she meets and falls in love with Lino Ortolano (played by Eugenio Mastrandrea), a professional chef from Sicily. As Amy’s time in Italy draws to a close, Lino tells her, “Our story doesn’t have to end here.” Within a year, he moves to Los Angeles to be with her, and they spend the next few years navigating various challenges such as their different cultural backgrounds, family drama and unforeseen health conditions. “From Scratch” takes viewers on an emotional rollercoaster as it tells an epic and passionate love story.

Locke, who co-created the series with her sister, Attica, revealed that she wrote the memoir because she had experienced both great love and great loss and felt compelled to document both. In an interview with Tamron Hall at the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, she described the book as “a black woman’s journey of self-discovery through grief.” The sisters also stated that creating the show gave them the opportunity to tell a Black woman’s coming-of-age story in a different way. “We don’t often get to see any women of colour who are having an adventure not steeped in struggle. She’s having an adventure that’s not rooted in racial obstruction or anything but an internal drive,” Attica explained.

Amy and Lino both have to deal with disapproval from their families in some way. Lino’s father, Giacomo (Paride Benassai) already disapproves of Lino going to Florence to become a professional chef instead of staying on the farm to work with him. He also refuses to attend Lino’s wedding because Amy is not Italian or Catholic and is an African American woman. Similarly, Amy’s father, Hershel (Keith David) is dissatisfied with her decision to study art instead of law. Her family is also concerned about her being with someone so “different.” However, Amy’s family eventually comes around, and even attends the couple’s wedding reception despite the absence of Lino’s family. When Lino is diagnosed with cancer, however, both families must put aside their differences and come together to form an unimaginable bond that will serve as a rock during these trying times. Amy and Lino’s unconditional love is evident as she fully immerses herself in the role of primary caregiver, all while being terrified and uncertain about what the future holds.

“From Scratch” is one of those shows where, based on reviews or word of mouth, you know there will be a sad ending, but you keep hoping that won’t be the case as the show progresses. It’s an interracial, intercultural love story that explores myriad themes such as romantic love, commitment, food as a love language, community, divorce, grief, resilience, unconditional love and the unpredictability of life. The cinematography is breathtaking, and features spectacular shots of the Italian countryside.

“From Scratch” is compelling and sad at times, but it also has lighthearted moments, witty banter, great dialogue and humor. It emphasizes the value of community and how food, language and grief bring people together. Lino’s diagnosis requires both families to put aside their differences and work together as one. His parents fly in from Sicily to be with him while he recovers, and later join Amy’s family and friends to take care of him and provide moral support. When the cancer returns years later, after the birth of the couple’s daughter, Idalia, it’s heartwarming to witness how the family comes together to care for her. Danielle Deadwyler, who plays Amy’s remarkable and incredibly supportive older sister Zora, talks about how the series breaks down the walls of what it means to be family. “It’s removing the cultural boundaries that we tend to put up because we do not speak the same language, because we do not make the same food. Difference is the thing that pulls you together and that’s what From Scratch does.”

Saldaña, who is married to an Italian in real life, brings her experiences and fluency in Italian to the film and plays Amy brilliantly. In an interview with the Today Show, Attica discussed Lino’s casting and described the moment she realized Mastrandrea would be perfect for the role. “I came out of my chair. He reminded me so much of Saro that I had to stand up, walk out of the room and I started crying.” The show premiered on Netflix on Friday, Oct. 21 2022 and quickly rose to the top of the Top 10 List. It rightfully generated a lot of buzz on social media and there were many positive reviews, fans commented on what a tearjerker the series was and how beautifully it captured an epic love story. Perhaps the best commentary is the video by TikTok user @rickeythompson, who said, in between tears, “If somebody doesn’t love me like this, I don’t want you at all.” He’s absolutely right. Everyone deserves to feel and experience the genuine love and commitment portrayed in “From Scratch.”

Azeezah Ibraheem, Near East University

Writer Profile

Azeezah Ibraheem

Near East University

Hi! My name’s Azeezah and I love sunsets, books and the ocean.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Don't Miss