He approaches worms, armadillo, cow-skin soup, and calf’s brains with the same glee as a four-year-old does an ice-cream cone.

He is Andrew Zimmern, host of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern and Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre World, and author of the new book Andrew Zimmern’s Field Guide to Exceptionally Weird, Wild, and Wonderful Foods.

But how, exactly, does one develop a taste for fruit bats, or end up traveling the world to eat fried scorpions?

To better understand Zimmern’s fascination with the unfamiliar, we sat down to chat about the five transformative dishes that were critical to the development of his adventurous palate as a lad. Spoiler alert: one of them is crispy stringbeans from a Chinese restaurant. So, you never know—even if you don’t think you’re that daring, you might be just a few years away from tucking into a big bowl of wriggling mollusks.

This interview has been edited and condensed.