The first use of paper money in world history is believed to have occurred in Chengdu, Sichuan, in the eleventh century. The illustration above is a print from a wooden printing block used to produce this currency, known as jiaozi (交子) or "exchange media."
I offer this random fact to you because today's newsletter post is about money. I have turned on the Substack option that allows subscribers to subsidize my explorations of Sichuan food and globalization. If you are receiving this email you probably already have a pretty good idea that my ambit is wide. Taiwanese pandemic preparation, science fiction, and Daoist enlightenment is just the beginning. My curiosity is endless, and my conviction that understanding the connections that bind us all together across the globe is a worthwhile endeavor is stronger than ever.
But have no fear: this will be what we call in the journalism trade an extremely porous pay wall. The majority of my most crafted posts will always be free. I'm toying with the idea of making the occasional recipe available only to paying subscribers, but I reserve the right to change my opinion on that topic at any time.
I will not be the least bit offended if you want to save your pennies for other purposes. Believe me, I get it. The global economy is a scary place right now, and The Cleaver and the Butterfly is hardly as critical to anyone's survival as toilet paper, local news, coffee, or even The Disney Channel.
It's all good. From the moment I started this project I never expected it to be remotely self-supporting. But I also never expected that the process of writing these stories would turn out to be so extraordinarily fulfilling. I've never before, in my thirty-year career as a reporter/editor/blogger, felt more like a writer, more in tune with my craft, more in love with the poetry of language. This being the case, I can't help but feel that anything that helps align some economic support in the same direction as the path that I must continue to follow seems mandatory.
Five bucks a month or fifty bucks a year. If you can spare it, I intend to make it worth your while. And if you can't, no worries, the welcome sign will still be out for freeloaders of all descriptions.