Lidia Bastianich Remembers What It Was Like To Cook With Julia Child - Exclusive

There's a recipe in Lidia Bastianich's new cookbook, "Lidia's a Pot, a Pan, and a Bowl" that's an Italian version of a French onion soup. It's a dish that Bastianich exclusively told Mashed "could have been a little bit of Julia's influence." Naturally, she's talking about Julia Child. It's easy to believe that the day that Child walked into Bastianich's Italian restaurant, Felidia, and ordered a mushroom risotto was destiny. "She wanted to know, what was this woman: young, Italian, [what was I] doing different?" Bastianich remembered.

The two legends were always supposed to be friends. They share the same kind of "it factor": a dynamism and kindness mixed with an unassuming cooking genius. It's a nearly impossible recipe to master, and it has us all enchanted. Bastianich who has become the undisputed matriarch of you-can-do-it (no, really, you can) Italian cooking, inherited part of her grace on television from Child. "I observed how she was a real teacher," Bastianich told Mashed. "It was not about her showing off how much she knew or how much ... And I remember, then I said, 'You know, it's not about me cooking for me. I can take the viewer out there to the food.'"

In private, Bastianich and Child formed a friendship that would last "until the very end." As Bastianich recalled to Mashed, "I think I went to visit her a week before she passed, down in Santa Monica." When they cooked together, Child showed a side of her that escaped the reach of your TV screen.

Julia Child was 'open in learning'

Lidia Bastianich used to cook with Julia Child at her home in Cambridge, "even when her husband, Paul, was still there." (Paul Child, who, according to The New York Times, helped design Julia Child's iconic kitchen and was a master of their wine collection, died in 1994.) Visit The Smithsonian, and you can imagine what it was like to cook with Child in her home kitchen. Bastianich says it's preserved today, exactly the way it was when Child lived in it. "Everything was very practical," Bastianich remembered. "And that was nice."

When the two women cooked together, Child stopped teaching and started learning. "She was very curious," Bastianich said. "She was always sticking her fingers into things trying to taste, to see, 'Lidia, and this now?'" In the kitchen, the former spy-turned-television phenomenon (Child, according to NBC, did clerical work for an intelligence agency during World War II), was wildly inquisitive. "She wanted to know," Bastianich told Mashed. "She was very open in learning, but also open in sharing. She would say, 'Oh, I would do it this way.' And, 'Oh, I thought it was done that way.' So she was full of comments."

To make Lidia Bastianich's Italian version of a French onion soup, pre-order and purchase Lidia Bastianich's new cookbook, "Lidia's a Pot, a Pan, and a Bowl." For more, daily inspiration from Bastianich, follow her on Instagram.