Sunday, August 14, 2011


Anyone familiar with Louis Armstrong would rightly assume that the man did love his food. Good ol'Satchmo loved to chow down so much that he'd often sign off his letters with "Soul Foodly Yours," or "Red Beans & Ricely Yours."

Patrick Jarenwattanon wrote a great piece about that tidbit for the NPR on what would have been Armstrong's 110th birthday. The story runs through the musician's love for soul food, but also his less obvious love for Chinese and Italian fare as well, all rounding out Armstrong's already fascinating personality.

But where the story really picks up steam is when it discusses Armstrong's equal love for extreme dieting. He'd often go through periods of being cartoonishly fat, but then drop 100 pounds in a very short period of time. His secret? Laxatives.

It seems that Armstrong was particularly fond of Swiss Krissly, an herbal laxative that he'd take after meals with Bisma Rex, an antacid. His fans - and housewives who didn't listen to his music, but did watch his television show - would write in to find out about his diet regimen. So curious were they that Armstrong took to writing Swiss Krissly on the back of his business cards, and would mail out pictures of him sitting on the toilet with the laxative's name written on the top.

The story also ends off with a recipe from Louis and Lucille Armstrong (his third wife) for red beans and rice. There's a great story about how the meal was Louis' threshold test for Lucille when they first started dating, but the best part of it is what I assume to be Louis' own addition to the meal: "Twenty minutes later — Bisma Rex and Swiss Kriss."

Read the story here.

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