I am a fairly good cook in my opinion. My mom has been a cook her whole life, (think catering and delis not a chef in a restaurant,) and she taught me the basics. I don't follow recipes per say, i just use them as a guide and wing it. I cook everyday, and I do it all from homemade pizza, and cheeseburgers, to Chateaubriand on Christmas and turkeys on thanksgiving. I have a good career in the electrical industry, and not trying to become a professional chef. That being said i would like to have the skill and knowledge of a professional chef.
I feel like i can keep coming up with ideas day by day, and just making up my own meals, but i would like to learn some "classic" dishes. I figure if i buy a french cookbook, an Italian cookbook, a Spanish cookbook, etc and just go through them recipe by recipe, i can pretty much teach myself anything there is to know. I might come across a dish i would never think to make, or a dish i didn't know i would like, but end up loving. I want to be able to invite someone over for dinner, and ask them what they want, and know how to make it no problem. Not have to suggest chicken Francaise over Marsala because i never made one or the other.
So now the question, what ESSENTIAL cookbooks do you recommend? I don't want just recipes so much as, an education on the type of cuisine. I saw "Essentials of classic italian cooking" by Marcella Hazan, and i think thats what i'm looking for, (for the italian part,) but i know nothing about cookbooks. Thanks for reading my long post.