My quest for the perfect tuna melt is a long way from completion. And I blame the Internet. At the last count, the search engine Altavista knew of 510 tuna melt recipes on the web. So far, I've tried seven.
It's something of a mystery to me why there are so many recipes on the net. Much of it, I would guess, stems from the free space that most service providers offer their clients. The three thoughts that occur to people as soon as they get space seem to be, in order: 1) "Great!" 2) "What am I going to put on it?" 3) "How about my mum's recipe for lentil soup."
This array of uncensored recipes (food poisoning is the Internet's real danger, not dodgy pictures) comes into its own if you ever need a recipe fast. Any of the major search engines will give you serviceable instructions for anything from cheese sauce to braised oysters in a few seconds.
There are some online foodies, however, who have really pushed out the boat. Literally, in the case of Beach Net. Their advice on cooking shark even outlines how to go about catching your meal in the first place. "You need to find a 35-to 40ft boat with enough deck space to handle bulky shark carcasses," they advise. There are also instructions on how to skin your shark; best done, apparently, with "a pair of pliers in one hand and the shark's head and tail in the other".
The home brewers of the world have also embraced the net. Ray, the "homebrew guru" on one of the better sites, All About Beer, runs an eclectic Q&A session, which is where to head if you want to share his insights into high-octane (ie very strong) beer. Home brewing, incidentally, appears to be about as illicit as web recipes get. I expected to find much more than a couple of shabby sites devoted to recipes for what could best described as other intoxicating substances. The search engines throw up plenty of links for them, but many of the sites themselves appear to have been deleted. An indication, perhaps, that self-censorship is more prevalent on the Internet than some free speech proponents would like.
Although enthusiasts' recipes dominate the Internet, the professionals are beginning to feature too. Starchefs is a web magazine featuring a search engine in which you suggest raw ingredients and it throws back recipe ideas. The site also has one of the sweetest things to crop up in a while: Recipes for Love, a compilation of aphrodisiac meals. This sort of thing is what the web is all about.
In the meantime, my search for the ultimate sandwich goes on. Any tried and tested recommendations gleaned from what's out there will be greatly appreciated.
Food for Thought
Recipes for low-fat, low- cholesterol meals
Everything you could possibly want to know about home brewing, featuring Ray, the self-styled homebrew guru.
An extremely exhaustive account of how to catch, kill and cook your favoured shark.
Comprehensive web magazine including the delightful Recipes for Love