What Cooking Really Meant To Julia Child, According To Historian Helen Horowitz - Exclusive

Julia Child did not grow up collecting soup spoons and whisks. When she studied history at Smith, she was probably not day dreaming of cheese soufflé. Actually, before she graduated from Le Cordon Bleu, and much before she became universally beloved for her "If you're afraid of butter, use cream" philosophy, Child was almost a spy. The United States' first celebrity chef had already tied the knot with husband Paul Child when she first started making meals in earnest. As Historian Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz writes in the new book, "Warming Up Julia Child," the culinary star's brother-in-law's wife, Freddie, first initiated her into the art of cooking.

It wasn't until the private tutelage of Chef Bugnard, a Le Cordon Bleu instructor in Paris, that Child's skills in the kitchen blossomed however. But cooking was no lucky find. It captivated Child as nothing else had. From the time that she started "L'cole des Trois Gourmandes" alongside Simca Beck and Louisette Bertholle in 1952 to the day the show "Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home" wrapped in 1999, Child never stopped. "Even when she was enjoying things like traveling, she was testing other people's food, wanting to find out how was that done, seeing if she could get into a kitchen — those kinds of things," Horowitz reflected to Mashed in an exclusive interview. "She was like a musician, in a way. She was totally dedicated to what she was trying to accomplish."

Julia Child's 'way of life' was cooking

If Julia Child never stopped working, that was not because she couldn't afford to. As historian and author Lefkowitz Horowitz documented, Child lived off of her mother's inheritance when things got tight. But cooking quickly became much more than a profession. "She was cooking at least five hours a day, testing and working. It never stopped." Lefkowitz Horowitz reflected to Mashed. "When they began to spend time in Provence with Simca, after they moved to America, guess what they were doing? They were working in that kitchen again. When Simca came to visit, what were they doing? Working in the kitchen. It was her way of life. It was her creative outlet."

In short: Julia Child had found her second great love. As luck would have it, Paul Child, her first, was not — it seems — overly jealous. ("He was always on her side," Lefkowitz Horowitz reflected. "I'm not really aware of a quarrel between them that ever surfaced in their papers.") That's just as well for Paul, as cooking was not something that Julia Child was ever going to let go of. As Lefkowitz Horowtiz observed, "You don't think about an artist taking a vacation from sketching. Artists I know take their sketchbooks with them, and [Child] was like that. It was an art for her as well as a profession."

If you're enjoying watching "Julia" the series, dig a little deeper! Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz's book "Warming Up Julia Child" is available for purchase here.