In the third episode of From Scratch, we make an 18-month jump to summer 2004 where Amy, played by Zoë Saldaña, and Lino, played by Eugenio Mastrandrea, are touring their wedding venue, a duchess’ mansion in Florence.
When they’re talking to the duchess about paying for their reservation, the duchess repeats how she needs the deposit in full. The microaggression from the duchess becomes a laughing matter when Amy and Lino meet with friends because they know the duchess, like many others, didn’t expect to see a Black American woman with a Sicilian man wanting to marry in an Italian mansion.
The series is a fictional adaptation of From Scratch by Tembi Locke, who tells the story of how she fell in love with her husband and how she fell in love with his country after his untimely death from cancer. This episode covers the wedding that doesn’t stray away too far from the memoir.
Before family arrives, Amy and Lino joke about him meeting her entire family. Lino will be baptized as a Texan, Amy laughs. Lino asks if that means he’ll be dipped in barbecue sauce. Amy giggles and says the choice condiment would be hot sauce.
What is unspoken between them is Lino’s family is not coming to the wedding. With his father still angry about his decisions to leave Sicily for education, career, and now a wife, Lino will have to lean on Amy’s family.
Like clockwork, Amy’s father, Hershel, played by Keith David, arrives in Florence in Texan cowboy attire, along with a crowd of their family members. The Black family dominates the guest list, and they’re wondering why the Sicilian family is not present. They compare the commute times from Houston to Dallas with Florence to Sicily, both trips an hourlong flight. How did they come halfway around the world while the much closer other side didn’t bother to show up?
At the low-key bachelorette slumber party, Amy asks her older sister, Zora, played by Danielle Deadwyler, if it’s OK to get married without her future in-laws in attendance at the wedding. As the day gets closer, the hope they will show up is dissipating.
Meanwhile in Castelleone, Sicily, Lino’s mother Filomena, played by Lucia Sardo, is visibly upset about not being able to attend her son’s wedding. She’s from another generation, as in she obeys her husband, Lino’s father Giacomo, played by Paride Benassai, disapproves of Lino’s actions. In fact, Giacomo calls Lino a “disgrace.”
It’s the wedding day. Amy gets her something old, something borrowed, something blue from Zora, her mother Lynn, played by Kellita Smith; her stepmother Maxine, played by Judith Scott; and her grandmother Evelyn, played by Greta Sesheta.
With the men, Lino is christened with Texas-shaped cuff links from Hershel. Though his father is not there, Lino can now depend on his father-in-law.
Before they walk down the aisle outside on the terrace, Amy and Lino meet inside the mansion. They console each other that they will be fine getting married without his parents there.
The Sicilan side did not show up in the book either. At least Tembi’s late husband Saro’s immediate family was not there, but an aunt and uncle-in-law had shown up.
“Unbeknown to us, they had driven down using the address on the invitation I had sent them. They had told no one they were coming, not Saro’s mother, not Saro’s father. To do so would have been a family betrayal. Still, there they were. Saro was speechless, moved to tears by their gesture. And for the first time, I sensed what we had missed in not having is parents there. My heart opened wide.”
After exchanging vows and jumping the broom, they have dinner. Lynn rises from her seat for a toast and advises the new married couple to not allow pebbles of problems pile up into a boulder. When there are too many peddles impeding growth, then a couple may never get past that boulder. She says she had that problem with Hershel. The moment becomes tense between the divorced couple, but Hershel finds a way to end the toast as guests drink their wine. Everyone later dances the Harlem Shuffle under string lights on the terrace.
PEBBLES TURN INTO BOULDERS
Amy and Lino embark on a trip to Sicily. Lino couldn’t return to the U.S. without seeing his family, although they refused to come to the wedding. Once on Sicilian ground, he calls his family’s home. His father picks up and warns him to not come near the house. Devastated, Lino says they can go back home. Amy says no; they can still enjoy their time.
At the hotel, Amy calls the house herself. Lino’s sister Biagia, played by Roberta Rigano, answers the phone this time, cradling a baby daughter who’s never met her uncle. Amy explains Lino wants to see the family badly. Biagia says it’d be impossible for her and her mother to see Lino; the very action will bring shame to the family for disobeying the patriarch.
Later, Giacomo comes inside the house and takes off his boots. Filomena notices a pebble in one of the boots that she slides into her apron’s pocket. It symbolizes the pebbles, or the problems, that could pile up in a marriage, per Lynn’s wedding toast.
The next day, while Amy and Lino walk around the farmers market, Lino spots his father bringing a merchant some of his crops. Lino and Giacomo lock eyes, but Giacomo jumps into his truck and speeds away.
At home, Filomena scrimps on Giacomo’s meal by barely adding any tomato sauce to his spaghetti. This deliberate action eats away at her so that she tells her priest during confession. The priest asks why would she do that as a dutiful wife. She explains the fractured relationship she now has with her son, including missing his wedding, because she must obey her husband.
As Amy and Lino are leaving the hotel after a fruitless effort to see his family, Lino notices his mother, his sister, and his baby niece. They sit down outside to catch up, but not for very long. Filomena and Biagia must go before Giacomo notices anything is amiss. They return to the priest’s car and drive away.
The memoir has Tembi surprising Saro with a trip to Sicily months after the wedding. They stayed in a hotel and shared their schedule with Saro’s sister Franca. This brought different family members, mostly cousins, to their hotel to meet with Saro and Tembi. Then finally, Saro’s parents came.
“As we passed bread, no one referenced the previous years. There was no grand apology or even gesture of regret for time lost. We just ate and carried forward as if starting our relationship from that moment.” Tembi goes on to write that she ate “pasta with local capers and a simple tomato sauce that pleased my palate like no other.”
On this trip, Tembi and Saro are saddled with a dry cake a local baker gives them. The cake, or “the traditional cake of Polizzi Generosa,” is supposed to be delivered to actor Vincent Schiavelli, known for his roles in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ghost, and Batman Returns. Once they’re back in Los Angeles, Tembi calls her agent about how to contact Vincent. The actor himself calls and comes over to pick up the cake.
This is dramatized with Amy and Lino being in the same predicament looking for a distant cousin of a Sicilian baker who lives in LA like them. Amy uses her contacts at the art gallery to find the cousin, who happens to work at the Watts Towers art installation, which was created by Italian immigrant artist Sabato “Simon” Rodia. The cousin also gets his cake.
The cake leads to more for Amy as she wrestles with a major career decision right when she and Lino are stabilizing their married lives.