Roast beef is a typical English dish that has ancient origins. Already in the Middle Ages it was prepared for banquets and holidays. Only later, probably from the end of the 18th century to the 19th century, did it spread more widely and crossed the Channel.

A dish so loved by the English that it gave rise to the popular phrase “The Roast Beef of Old England” deriving from the lyrics of a ballad by Henry Fielding for his play The Grub-Street Opera, which was first performed in 1731. Only after about twenty years were the words added that praise the goodness and quality of English roast beef (Chorus: Oh! the Roast Beef of Old England, And old English Roast Beef!).

It seems that roast beef was mentioned for the first time in a manuscript sent from London in 1837 by Giuseppe Mazzini, which talks about a dish cooked for special occasions. But we must thank the many English residents in Italy and Tuscany, thanks to whom the dish was ‘imported’.

It is probable, in fact, that the Tuscan cooks learned the recipe from the numerous English families who lived in Florence and in the countryside around the city, and that they adapted the fine cut of beef to local ingredients, introducing olive oil, typical herbs, Chianti wine… until it is transformed into a classic of the Tuscan table: Rosbif.

The word Rosbif is also found in the Treccani Encyclopedia which admits the Italianized version, although in Tuscan slang it is also called Rosbiffe, a term that all Florentines understand perfectly.

Rosbif, or rosbiffe… is excellent both hot and cold, and the next day… it can be enjoyed in a good sandwich seasoned with a drizzle of oil.