To prepare food including the use of heat is to cook. Humans started to cook food about 2 million years ago. Why? Not really sure. It is probable that some kind of animal had been hunted and was being eaten near a fire. It may have been cold so the person eating heated it up by the fire. They found that the meat became juicier and a new flavour showed up. Why not… ? the Cook is the one who does the cooking.
To cook is an art. One of our daughters can offer to cook a meal and then go to the fridge to search out leftovers. From those, that she did not know we had, an amazing meal is cooked. I suppose ‘cooked’ in this case has a large dose of ‘assembled’ in it. Well, so can anything that we cook. So ‘to cook’ can include meaning to assemble, to design a sequence or combination. To cook this way is a talent.
When someone says they are cooking something up it usually means they are planning, maybe even scheming to create an outcome. Whatever it is takes some effort and is at least slightly significant. It is not just a wave at a friend across a room. To ‘cook the books’ means to reassemble the entries in the financial records to create a particular impression. It includes bending the truth.
When I ask you ‘what’s cooking?’ I am inquiring about what you are up to these days. It is an invitation to a conversation. ‘What’s cooking?’ can also indicate that I am suspicious about something and my spidey sense is telling me I need to ask. There are many cooking shows on TV where people compete to make the best meal, in a short time, with access to the same ingredients. Can be fun.
To cook is to combine in order to produce an interesting and engaging result, whether that be for taste-buds or for intellect, whether as challenge or invitation. All seems somehow satisfying when cook is the action word. True cooking is not done in a blindingly fast manner. Some say that to microwave a food is not cooking and that a hastily, poorly contrived plot is hardly cooked, but rather just spilled .