From Scratch, a charming memoir by Trembi Locke, is a wonderful reflection on life, death, family, food, and Sicily. Trembi, a fairly successful actress whom I had never heard of, is a smart black Texan, who falls in love with a Sicilian chef while studying abroad in Rome. This memoir covers their meeting when she is young, the expanding of their family when they adopt a child, his losing battle with cancer, and her coming to terms with widowhood.
Her husband’s family initially refuses not only to attend their wedding, but won’t even meet Trembi. They are very traditional Sicilians, making their meals each day from the food they farm, living in a small close knit community where neighbors support each other, and leery of any outsider (outside of their own town – let alone a young black woman from Texas.)
I loved how well she captured the feeling of Sicily and old fashioned Sicilians. Tembi’s mother in law replies when asked how she is – “I’m as God wants, No more, no less.” Having grown up in an Italian immigrant neighborhood of Brooklyn, filled with Sicilians, I totally understood this answer. I laughed with understanding when her in-laws visit her in LA bringing two suitcases of food with them (including fresh produce that they somehow got past customs). My mouth watered when she described her mother-in-law’s cooking. She includes recipes at the back of the book (I am a sucker for a memoir with recipes).
Despite being widowed so young, this memoir is not at all sad. Instead, it is uplifting and shows the strength of family, and the demonstration of love through food.