"Love people. Cook them tasty food." This slogan, a creation of Penzeys Spices, is surprisingly accurate for the way I operate. When I love people, I don't necessarily tell them in words, but sooner or later, I end up cooking for them.
Perhaps it's just how my family is, or maybe it's my natural reserve. Possibly, it's a bit of both. Regardless, I have a difficult time putting affection to words. Thus, I seldom say "I love you" to anyone outside my nuclear family and grandparents.
Of course, that doesn't mean they're the only people I love. I have so many friends and other family members whom I love dearly. However, I am unlikely to be the first person to say "I love you", though I do respond if somebody else says it to me. I tend to express my love in other ways, like spending quality time with people, or doing things for them.
At some point, it manifests itself as making food for the people I love. Usually, I bake cookies or brownies, but occasionally I foray into other realms, like candy. I've also made dinner for my family multiple times.
It's not unreasonable that cooking and affection are so linked in my mind. Ever since I can remember, baking has always been full of love, as I helped my parents and grandparents make cookies when I was little. And there's the wonder of Thanksgiving and Christmas, when family and sometimes friends come together over a feast.
Some of my favorite recipes are family recipes. Pepparkakor, one of my favorite cookies, are made with a recipe from my dad's side of the family. Our recipe for buckeyes comes from one of my mom's aunts. And that's only a sample of my family's recipes.
If I'm being perfectly honest, I must admit that cooking for people is rather self-rewarding. When I make tasty food, it means the world to me when I hear people exclaim how much they like it. But that is still a side benefit, and not my motivation for cooking.
To my friends and not-immediate-family, though I may not be obviously effusive in showing my affection, please know that I prefer to pour my love into the time and effort it takes to cook. It's how I'm wired, I guess.
So, take note: If I've ever cooked something special when I didn't have to, if I've ever brought you food, it's because I care for you. Telling you how I feel in words is something that may or may not ever happen. However, when I make food for you, I'm saying "I love you" in my own way.
And after all, as the German saying goes, "Liebe geht durch den Magen."