The answer, according to scientists, lies in meat's unique mixture of fat and umami (more about this taste later), spiced up in a process called the Maillard reaction - the browning that happens when we cook a piece of meat. Even animals seem to agree: If mice could cook, many would turn up their noses at raw meat. The first time Rachel Carmody of Harvard University offered her lab mice mini-steaks, both roasted and raw, the animals eagerly went for the cooked meat.
In similar experiments, chimps, gorillas and orangutans were clear about their preferences, too: Roasting, grilling and stewing appealed to them. Another reason why cooked meat is so hard to resist is that it's loaded with the taste known as umami (Japanese for “delicious”). This fifth taste - in addition to salty, sweet, sour and bitter - was identified a century ago, but only in recent years has it become widely accepted by scientists.