I like food to be simple and sensual. Principles of art mediate what I put into a dish; I look at color, texture, taste, and numbers. The theories, detailed in my book Intuitive Cooking (Book Publishing Company, 2006), are simple and founded in common sense. They apply both to creating a dish and composing a meal.
The theory of numbers guides me on how many major elements will be in a dish or meal so it is visually pleasant and digestible.
The theory of color and texture brings different nutrients into the dish and holds the interest of the eater, important for chewing and digestion.
The theory of balance looks at a variety of cooking methods to prevent boredom for the cook and the eater.
The theory of five tastes—sweet, salty, sour, pungent (hot), and bitter—helps a cook fix a dish that is out of balance.
The theory of “substance, flavor, strength” (SFS) also guides a cook on how to fix an imbalanced dish. Substance is the body weight of the dish, its thickness or thinness. Flavor comes from ingredient choice; sometimes this brings taste (garlic, ginger) and sometimes not (rice, water). Strength is the quantity of any ingredient. These three attributes are interdependent. Change the substance of something too thick by adding more liquid, and it will alter the strength of flavor.