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105-year-old champion beats COVID, says gin-soaked raisins did the trick

golden raisins
Photo: John Greim / Contributor (Getty Images)

The oldest resident of her New Jersey nursing home at 105 years of age, Lucia DeClerck was diagnosed with COVID one day after her second shot of the vaccine. That’s some unfortunate timing, but The New York Times reports the happy news that she beat the virus.

DeClerck was asked what her strategy was, and she replied, “Prayer. Prayer. Prayer. One step at a time. No junk food.” Fair enough. She does, however, have one special routine: she eats nine gin-soaked golden raisins a day, every day. (The Times did not specify her preferred brand of gin.)

“Fill a jar,” she said. “Nine raisins a day after it sits for nine days.” For the record, this has not been accepted as a COVID treatment by the medical community, nor have any of her other lifelong habits, like saying the rosary every day, drinking aloe juice, and brushing her teeth with baking soda. Her relatives did say that she got her first cavity when she was 99, so there might just be something to the baking soda thing. And while I’m not generally a raisin eater myself, the gin raisins sound oddly good to me.

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“We would just think, ‘Grandma, what are you doing? You’re crazy,’” her 53-year-old granddaughter, Shawn Laws O’Neil, told the Times. “Now the laugh is on us. She has beaten everything that’s come her way.”

DeClerck’s seen a lot during her lifetime. She lived through the Spanish Flu (holy shit), two world wars, and three husbands. It’s no surprise to me that she’s strong enough to power straight through another pandemic. After she was diagnosed, the home put her into isolation, where she was lonely and scared. But she exhibited few symptoms, and within two weeks, she was back in her own room.

Her family’s got a fitting new name for their grandma Lucia: “The 105-year-old badass who kicked Covid.” And now she’s also my new culinary inspiration.

Staff writer at The Takeout. Also: Saveur Humor Blog Award Winner, professional pizza maker, and insufferable troublemaker.

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DISCUSSION

She attributes her survival to “one weird trick” instead of the vaccine that reduced the severity of her COVID infection from life-threatening to mild.