This complex question has been posed to food bloggers by Michael Ruhlman. Since I learned of it, I have been mulling my answer, wanting to dig deeper. My standard answer is "to show my love", but since I have had a fascination/love affair with cooking since I was very young, the answer has to go deeper.
I loved cooking when I was small. When my mom would let me go into the kitchen and "cook" cheerios, water, flour and gum. (My first invented recipe). I enjoyed it when I competed for 6 years in 4-H competitions, learning the correct way to make cookies, all the way up to yeast rolls.
Cooking started to be connected to my emotions when I wanted to make "romantic" dinners for my high school boyfriend. I would peruse my mom's cookbooks for "fancy" foods, serving them in our family room on a tablecloth covered card table. And we would wear dress clothes. We were soooo grown up!
As I got older, moved away from the Midwest and began to discover a world of unexplored food, cooking became a way for me to try new cuisines. As I would be exposed to something new, I wanted to learn how to make it. I wanted to learn its historical origins. I wanted to learn the components that meld together to make it a true dish.And, when exploring the depths of my soul, I have discovered I have control issues. When I cook, I plan the menu and make the ultimate decision which flavors hit our mouths. I think I like this!
Also I find cooking:
A good creative outlet
I have met some of my best friends through the love of cooking. Some of them I have never seen in person, yet we share a bond across state and country borders.
And the picture you see at the top? He has re-fueled my passion for all things food. His enthusiasm for whatever I make provides a "fun" in meal-planning and prep that I had lost for a few years.
So down to the basics?
I cook to show my love.