Mexico: La Papa Caliente

Informant: The following is a song I used to sing as a child with my friends. We would sing this song and play it at school all the time. There was a game that went along with it where you had to hold a potato, or a ball, and pass it around while you sang the song. Whoever had the potato in their hands when the song was over would lose. The song went like this: 

La papa caliente estaba en el sartén 

Tenía mucho aceite, quien se quemo? 

Uno, dos, tres. 

This roughly translates to: 

The hot potato was in the pan 

It had a lot of oil, who got burn? 

One, two, three. 


This is yet another example of how folk music is often times used to accompany children games. The song being sung has a specific game and action involved with it. Again, we can see how this is used in a social setting and as a way to establish relationships; the informant claims that he would play this with his friends at school. In a way, this song is a game in and of itself.

I find it very interesting that the song uses potatoes. Potatoes are a really big part of people’s diets in Mexico. They can be found anywhere in the city and are a very common ingredient. I wonder if this is why the song makes use of potatoes. Aside from that, I think this song is really cute and funny. I love the idea of a bunch of kids passing each other potatoes and singing a song to see who loses.