Mexican saying

Main piece:

The following was transcribed from a conversation recorded between informant and interviewer. 

Informant: “Ahora si te cacharon con las manos en la masa” 


Now yes they caught you with the hands on the dough

Full translation: 

Now they caught you in the act of the crime 

Interviewer: Why dough? Why does it have to be dough? 

Informant: I don’t know. It’s just a saying that’s well known. For example if you’re stealing and your mom were to catch you red-handed, then one would say “they caught him red-handed in the action”.

Background: My grandpa was my informant. He was born and raised in Guadalajara and did not travel to the U.S. until a couple years ago. He has lived in Mexico for about 70 years so he knows of a lot of Mexican traditions and legends and sayings. He knows this one pretty well from other people but that he never had to use that line to his daughter (my mom). It just stuck with him and he hears me and my sister say it a lot in the house. 

Context: I hadn’t thought about this one as a folk speech at first because I forgot what I was doing but I was with my sister. And my sister had done some wrongdoing so I said “te van a cachar con las manos en la maza… on the dough”. And then my sister said wait can’t you use that for your collection project and I thought about it and then proceeded to ask my grandpa more about it. 

Thoughts: I definitely overuse this one with my sister. I find it funny and it definitely lets the other person know they are exposed. I still do not know why “maza” as in dough but I know the meaning behind it- which is that they got caught red-handed. However, it’s not a saying that is commonly used. I think it’s used to create emphasis and drama more than anything.