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Foodie Lit
Ginger Bensman's To Swim Beneath the Earth

Megan Kimsey is a remarkable child and grows into a remarkable woman. Lurking beyond her Catholic upbringing, her physician’s training and her visions, is another life 400 years before. Her life as an Incan breaks through her consciousness, compelling her to go on a journey to the heights of the Andes and the remnants of the Incan Empire. “As she holds Bella, the image of Bella dissolves and she [Megan] realizes that she holds her son from another life, Kantu, frozen to death.” Sometimes it is hard to know what you are seeing.


In To Swim Beneath the Earth, Ginger Bensman writes a novel that has the main character on a quest at the same time that it is steeped in history, in mystery and in the mystical. Megan often feels she doesn’t belong in her present life:  the veil is thin between her lives and she often feels more at home in her earlier life.

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The deaths of two children are the tension and the loss in this novel. Ginger has expertly linked the losing of a child across 2 lifetimes and time periods. Megan experiences two deaths—neither her child in her current life, yet critical to understanding this character.


Ginger explained to me, “Bella and Kantu are both precocious cherished children, each of them inadvertently dies alone in the cold and snow. For Megan, her relationship with Bella is an echo of her former life with Kantu, and a trigger event that drives her search to understand what is happening to her. “


Reincarnation is a belief of many and part of Megan’s awakening.  Her visions make some think she is emotionally unstable, but her father, among others, believe in her ability to see beyond the present moment and this life. The search to find and understand her previous life drives Megan from her home in search of that other life.  Scholars and those descended from the Incas hear her speaking in Quecha, the Incan language, knowing things she cannot possibly know and seeing things beyond the veil. And they believe Megan.


And how does our author feel about reincarnation?  “My experience tells me that the universe is complex and mystical beyond anything I can imagine, and though I don’t have a reincarnation story of my own, I am fascinated with the possibility. I love the idea that each of us could have another life to redeem hurts and heal hearts we may have broken.”  


Megan’s journey draws readers in. The story is so intriguing in so many aspects and poignant in others that I encouraged Ginger to write a sequel to find out what happens to Megan in the next phase of her life. It was that good a story!


The high altitudes of Peru and Equador produce many vegetables other climates do not. There are about 10,000 varieties of potatoes (!!), with over 200 available in their local markets. While I couldn’t find that many varieties, I did use yellow, white and purple potatoes and multi-colored carrots. Corn is part of the daily cuisines in that area as well. Much of the food is very spicy –so add as many or as few peppers as you like!

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