In this article, we debate what are the differences between the memoir and the series in Netflix’s From Scratch. It will contain spoilers.
Based on the memoir From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home, the story follows Amahle “Amy” Wheeler (Zoe Saldaña), an American law student who just wanted to do something fun. Amy takes time off from law school to study art in Florence. Her experience would make Elizabeth Barrett Browning blush as the young woman finally opens herself up to life’s experiences. A mecca of European art, culture, and politics, she wants to take in Renaissance art, architecture, and monuments. However, how about a lover?
Tag in a young, handsome chef with funny shoes and a fondness for wild goats. His name is Lino (Eugenio Masteandrea), the very definition of Italian tall, dark, and handsome. A chef at a local spot, he immediately takes a shine to Amy. Lino is an artist himself, but his palette is pieces of fine white china. He cooks a sensational meal for her. No matter, the heat between Lino and Amy is apparent. These two cannot ignore each other’s lecherous gazes between each sensuous course the entire time.
From Scratch is the elevated romantic escapism that is difficult to create and easily dismissed. This Netflix adaptation of Tembi Locke’s memoir is a series that makes you appreciate what you have and long for what you do not. However, this being based on a memoir, how faithful is the transfer from page to streaming screen?
So, that begs the question:
From Scratch – what are the differences between the memoir and the Netflix series?
You will also notice most of the characters’ names are now changed. Since this is a memoir, you will notice that Tembi Locke changed her own character’s name. Tembi is now Amy in the series, while Lino is known as Saro in the book. The small child they adopted is named Zoela in the book. In the series, she is known as Idalia.
If you read Tembi Locke’s memoir, you immediately realize the possibilities of additional seasons after watching the series. For one, Locke returns to the central narrative. This is the romance between Amy/Tembi and Lino/Saro. This is layered between Amy’s four visits to Lino’s home in Sicily with her daughter, Zoela. The book’s prologue has Amy and Lino dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Where the series ends is where the book by Ms. Locke begins. Amy spreads Lino’s ashes over his family’s Sicilian olive fields, ending the first season. However, this happens during the first visit to Sicily, where Lino’s ashes are spread.
The book consists of three summers. One of them includes Tembi visiting Sicily with her daughter four months after Saro’s death in Schiavelli’s Cake-Bitter Almonds. This is true in the book, as Tembi’s father-in-law passed before Saro. Now both widows decide to spend time together and get to know one another. In the book, Saro’s mother’s name is Nonna. But in the series, we know her as Filomena. In the book, Tembi and Saro visit Sicily when his sister has a child. In the series, Amy and Lino choose to skip their honeymoon destination to visit Aliminusa in hopes of seeing Lino’s mother and sister. Of course, they do not tell the father.
The big family gathering and dinner in the Netflix series that happened in the last episode is one of the best scenes of the series. They cook a meal straight from Lino’s recipe to honor him and have the meal in their countryside olive fields. However, in the book Tembi gathers beans from Saro’s garden and calls Nonna to ask how to cook them for dinner. A meal she and her family are having to honor Saro’s memory.
The scene where Filomena shows Amy the clothes she wishes to be buried in (where she tells Amy so both her daughters know) does happen in the memoir. Of course, in the book, this occurs in the second summer titled, The Priest – Terra Vostra. We have not even gotten to “the priest” part, which makes me think this will be a major plot point if the show is picked up for a second season, whether it is a significant plot point in the book or not.
The book ends with Tembi’s final visit to Sicily, but she has been three years celibate and has not moved on. While the series focuses on all-encompassing parts of life and what makes us human, the memoir focuses on Tembi’s journey through grief. Everyone grieves differently, and Tembi’s love for Saro is pure. The general rule of thumb is that the greater the love, the longer it takes to move on.
The final scenes of Amy sweetly and softly blowing the last of Lino’s ashes across the olive fields represent closure and everlasting peace. How? Well, in the scene, the light shines all around Amy, and she almost gives herself a mental hug as she closes her eyes and takes everything in. In the book, Tembi refers to how — I am paraphrasing as I cannot match Ms. Locke’s lovely prose — just because you cannot see the moon during the day does not mean it is not in the sky.
That feeling matches perfectly in the series’ final scenes.