Why Today's Generation of this Pinoy Favorite Snack Tastes Different

These days, it's easier to miss the nights filled with cold air in Los Baños.

Elbi nights give tranquility while looking outside your dormitory window and seeing the horizons with small shining lights. Provide a companionship with evening sounds from dogs barking at a distance, people laughing from cafés and establishments, cars honking at drunk groups of students crossing the street.

Share a sliver of hope as the smell of nature mingles with the alcohol, cigarette smoke from LB Square, and the carbon emissions of cars at night wafting through your nostrils. Offer a sense of warmth from casual hugging with friends or accidental touching of hands while walking from campus to the nearest convenience store with a random passerby.

This all too familiar picture captures the stolen calm moments before the storm while you are hastily cramming for your test the next day.

During Elbi nights, there is a ritual known for granting the sought-after uno or life-saving tres. Your last-minute preparation for battle wouldn't be complete without your Elbi student, starter pack companion: instant noodles cooked at night, with a brown bag of pandesal you bought on the way from class.

For some, being in community quarantine for more than a year has caused old habits from living in Elbi to resurface. It is as if their body longs for their college life back during the face-to-face setup.

One of these habits is eating pancit canton, as a way of coping up with mental and psychological stress from academics. Plus, as a student, it’s one of the easiest and quickest meals to prepare. But, eating instant noodles at home tastes different from the pancit you eat in your place away from home. Whether in your dormitory or from a food stall vendor, it is just not the same.

What makes it taste different then?

Does this mean that the pancit canton Gen Z people are eating inferior to those eaten by Millennials or Gen Y's?

In the past few years, this Pinoy favorite snack has been on hot waters because of its improvement. It is not a brand new argument that today’s version of it is not the same as the Gen Z generation's older siblings and their parents had when they were in college.

Changing it to a circular shape of noodles from its traditional square block lump was met with mixed reactions from its so-called loyalists, often from people belonging to Gen Y or Millennials. Twitter wars clamored to make pancit canton great again.

Maybe it tastes different because eating pancit canton at home with older people is not as satisfying as eating alone or with classmates or barkada of the same age.

In Filipino culture, sitting down at the dinner table with the whole family after a long day of work or school indicates unity and quality time. But, for some, these are moments wherein casual family conversations, like how one cooks a pancit canton, instantly turn into battlefields of opinions that most of the time lead to disagreements.

Controversial topics often end up being talked about in family dinners. Do you have a pregnancy announcement? Do you have plans to get married? Do you have problems in school? Grab the chance to say it while eating with the whole family. Every family's dining table is a monumental witness for family issues.

Sparking arguments over which version of pancit canton is just the tip of the iceberg in the long list of disagreements between generations. It is quite a coincidence that through this controversial pancit canton, one can see how Filipino culture values sharing opinions within a family.

Being stuck inside homes and away from the university where ideas and discourse can flow freely has been a struggle. The difference between discussions over dinners with friends and family conversations has only been highlighted by the ongoing pandemic.

One can't help but wonder, does pancit canton taste different now because of its manufacturing, or depending on where and with whom you eat it?

Curious about social science-backed data on why family and generation feuds exist over time? Don’t miss this year’s TEDxUPLB: Sign of the Times!

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