Pasta Carbonara

So I’m in the process of getting my visa changed from business to work, and that entails a few hoops to jump through. You need your original college diploma, a letter stating you’ve had two years of experience working full time outside of China, your residence registration slip, 6 passport photos, an invitation letter from the company, and a health certificate.

Now, you can only get this health check from the government mandated health factory. It’s somewhere out in the middle of nowhere. Possibly by Zhongguancun? I don’t know, really, the cab ride was well over an hour and I kept falling asleep and losing my bearing. Luckily the visa girl from the office came with me or I’d have been useless. It’s also important to note that this health-factory is only open from 8:30-10:30 on weekdays, because really efficient companies can function only working 2 hours a day, when they generate profit by overcharging foreigners who have no other choice.

You can’t eat for 12 hours beforehand. After I ran ten miles (on a treadmill, which makes it seem like an eternity) yesterday, I came home, ate a Powerbar, and promptly passed out before I could make myself a big dinner, so not eating breakfast was a hardship this morning.

We entered, filled out a form, paid the fee (RMB 650), and then started the process. You’re given a sheet with 6 or 7 slots and rooms numbers and a bunch of bar-code stickers. And you run around to these rooms and sit for 30 seconds while each doctor or nurse or health technician does their thing. I had my blood drawn, my ears and eyes and mouth perfunctorily checked, my blood pressure taken. I have no idea what an ECG accomplishes, but I entered the next room, was told to lie down, a grumpy middle aged woman brusquely pulled up my shirt and attached clips around my ankles, my left wrist, and a bunch of suction-cup like nodes to my chest and ribs. This was unpleasant and tickled, and I giggled, which warranted a very harsh shushing from her. Twenty seconds later, onto the the X-ray room, where I was pushed up against a metal square, told I wasn’t close enough to it and pushed again, and then x-ray. These people have no bedside manner at all. Then up to the “surgical check” room, where a man ran his hands over my face and spine and checked my weight before checking off the box. Really creepy, and I’d been trying to stop myself from laughing ever since the ECG, this didn’t help the giggles at all. The last room was a sonogram, at which point I couldn’t hold it in and had to laugh while the lady prodded me with the ultrasound paddle and uncomfortably cold gel. At least that lady cracked a smile.

All in all, it took half an hour. Health factory. If I had been a robot getting diagnostics checked it couldn’t have been quicker. This was only amplified by the very upbeat and cheerful communist-propaganda-1984-reminiscent song piping out through the speakers, the words of which I couldn’t really understand, except that there was definitely counting. In my head, I decided it was singsong telling me ONE! let the woman stab your arm with the needle of dubitable hygiene, TWO! let the creepy man rub your face and not accomplish anything medical! THREE! comrade, do your part and stand against the wall while they shoot x-rays through you! FOUR! sister comrade be cheerful in harmonious duty to the health of the mother land and her wonderful citizens but DO NOT LAUGH while they poke and prod you! lalala! You need to be self critique for not taking this seriously!
My translation…could be wrong. Or completely on the mark.

In an effort to use up the last of the bacon in one go, I made carbonara sauce. This recipe is for two generous servings. I’ve never actually ordered or eaten spaghetti carbonara before, but a post about it popped up on and I was intrigued. My final thoughts are that it’s a simple, pretty decent dish but not one I’d make too often, also it can’t be very healthy for you. Salty fatty pork, cheese, egg and pasta: all winning ingredients.

4 oz. bacon, cut into little cubes
2 eggs, room temp
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
Black pepper

Cook the pasta, preferably spaghetti. In the mean time, whisk egg and cheese together. Fry the bacon until crispy, then set aside.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain, reserving about 1/4 cup of the water. Toss the pasta in the bacon pan with the water, then add the egg and cheese. Mix this up well, the residual heat of the pasta will cook the egg, and it will make a creamy sauce.
Season with fresh cracked black pepper and serve.

Creamy bacon parmesan pasta goodness


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