The Italian Almanac

a fiorentina steak

Italian News - December 8

Tuscany's famed Fiorentina T-bone steak is to return on New Year's Day after a four-and-a-half year ban. The welcome news for meat-lovers was hidden among new safety regulations in Wednesday's latest edition of the European Union's Official Gazette.

The return of the steak was agreed in October by the EU's food safety committee. Only a rubber stamp and a firm date was needed, which both came on Wednesday. Italy's famous butcher poet Dario Cecchini has already lined up a series of celebrations at his shop at Panzano in Chianti.

"We'll have a barbecue to end all barbecues," he said. Cecchini, an outsize, ebullient character, grabbed headlines worldwide in February 2001 when he staged the Fiorentina's funeral, the most illustrious victim of the EU's mad cow ban. Butchers and meat lovers came from as far away as Russia and Japan to snap up the last legal Fiorentinas, auctioned off by Cecchini for charity.

Cecchini, who has since started touring Italy showing his barbecue skills and singing the joys of meat in Tuscan dialect poetry, composed a lament for the very last steak as it was interred near his shop. He says he's already polishing up his lyrical skills for New Year's Day, when he'll read a resurrection ode.

A whopping cut off the bone, the Fiorentina is typically flash-grilled to leave a blood-dripping, succulent and almost raw centre - although the squeamish can always ask for it to be left a bit longer on the grill. Before the ban, the Fiorentina accounted for 5% of Italy's meat consumption.