Roast beef is a signature national dish of England and holds cultural meaning for the English dating back to the 1731 ballad "The Roast Beef of Old England". The dish is so synonymous with England and its cooking methods from the 18th century that the French nickname for the English is "les Rosbifs".
Translucent appearance is nothing to be alarmed about. Some prefer roast beef to be served "rare" or "pink", meaning that the center of the joint is cooked so that it retains a reddish color. Others prefer roast beef to be cooked medium or well done.
The roast beef sandwich commonly comprises bread, cold roast beef (either the leftovers from a homemade dinner or deli meat), lettuce and mustard, although it would not be uncommon to find horseradish, fresh/powdered chili pepper and even in some cases red onion.
Some trace the origins of the modern (U.S. based) roast beef sandwich as far back as 1877, with the then little known "beefsteak toast" recipe: cold beef, bread and gravy dish. In 1900, the dish was described by The Washington Post as "unattractive" and as "a tired ark in a gravy flood". The dish gained popularity in the coming years and by 1931, some critics even went as far as to describe it as "a true taste of South Dakota".