Talking about Italian food in specific, they're very opinionated about what's the best way to work each ingredient, how to work dough, how long to leave pasta resting, and what's the best blend of herbs and the best species for each recipe. On engineering we call it standardization not fetishism. That's what DOP, DOC and DOCG is about, and that's what the Neapolitan on Neapolitan pizza is about, you know that if you eat a Neapolitan pizza that follow the official process you will have a predicted flavor on your pizza, like it or not.
By reading the classics and asking yourself why they cook that way you will start to understand that you can use shortcuts where the output could be the same or close enough. For instance stone is a very bad heat conductor, that's why you need a very hot oven to deliver the right amount of heat to cook your pizza. But if you use a better conductor you could deliver the same amount of energy on a much lower temperature. On the "Modernist Cuisine at Home" book they research this topic and arrive on the conclusion that a thick baking steel sheet arrives on much better results, they even sell their official baking steel .
On a serious note, Like him or not his books/treatise on cooking is excellent. 
I got it for my wife for Christmas about 3 or 4 years ago, can't remember, and all 5 books have been well used.
You'll need a big kitchen for all the specialized gear he recommends but it made cooking fun for me and helped my wife go from an amateur enthusiast to someone who can hold their own with professional chefs. I'm very lucky:)
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