From Scratch

By Tembi Locke

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Recommend? yes!
Buy or borrow? buy!

“We had to begin at an ending and make a new beginning.”

Tembi Locke – From Scratch

Synopsis (Goodreads)

It was love at first sight when Tembi met professional chef, Saro, on a street in Florence. There was just one problem: Saro’s traditional Sicilian family did not approve of him marrying a black American woman, an actress no less. However, the couple, heartbroken but undeterred, forges on. They build a happy life in Los Angeles, with fulfilling careers, deep friendships and the love of their lives: a baby girl they adopt at birth. Eventually, they reconcile with Saro’s family just as he faces a formidable cancer that will consume all their dreams.

From Scratch chronicles three summers Tembi spends in Sicily with her daughter, Zoela, as she begins to piece together a life without her husband in his tiny hometown hamlet of farmers. Where once Tembi was estranged from Saro’s family and his origins, now she finds solace and nourishment—literally and spiritually—at her mother in law’s table. In the Sicilian countryside, she discovers the healing gifts of simple fresh food, the embrace of a close knit community, and timeless traditions and wisdom that light a path forward. All along the way she reflects on her and Saro’s incredible romance—an indelible love story that leaps off the pages.

In Sicily, it is said that every story begins with a marriage or a death—in Tembi Locke’s case, it is both. Her story is about loss, but it’s really about love found. Her story is about travel, but it’s really about finding a home. It is about food, but it’s really about chasing flavor as an act of remembrance. From Scratch is for anyone who has dared to reach for big love, fought for what mattered most, and needed a powerful reminder that life is…delicious.


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Tembi takes you through her first experience in Italy, where she met Saro, and how his family was initially unaccepting of her due to her race. But this memoir is so much more than Tembi’s love for her late husband, it’s about how she heals and copes following his death, how she extended this to her daughter, Zoela (which is a name I just adore!), and how she cultivated her new beginning with her mother-in-law in Sicily. 

This memoire is equal parts beautiful and heart-wrenching. Tembi is extremely open with how she copes and finds her way. She reminds us (or even informs some of us) that no matter your age, the grief following the loss of a loved one is an immense feeling that you can or that you will struggle, and that’s ok. That you will always have the memories, and that you can find light in the darkest times.

The writing is lyrical, so much so that often I forgot that I was reading about the events that someone actually experienced, and the descriptions were beautiful. I truly felt like I was walking down through Sicily alongside Tembi.

I definitely recommend giving this a read, the interactions between her and her husband, and her relationship with her daughter is inexplicably beautiful. As an added bonus, she includes recipes for dishes that she references throughout the book, some of which were her husbands recipes. 

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