Proverb – USA

“If you cannot stand the heat, stay out the kitchen”

Anthony told me that he learned this proverb while camping with a friend who lived in Van Nuys. He said he was around 8years old when he first heard it. My first time hearing it, Anthony said, I literally thought they were telling someone to get out the kitchen because we were around the cooking area. However, he went on, I heard Mike use the phrase in situations where it had nothing to do with the kitchen or heat. He said that he asked Mike to explain what he meant and Mike had this to say: – “Basically the phase means that if you cannot act in an expected way in a certain situation, then do not attempt trying it. Just give up.” A good time to use this proverb, Anthony said, would be during a basketball game. He said that the proverb could be used on those basketball players that often go down easily trying to con referees into giving technical fouls to the opponents. Those players, Jordan said, could be told to give up playing if they cannot stand the physical game.

In his explanation of the proverb, Anthony said, it is essentially a way to tell individuals to learn the rules before they play the game. He said that if the rules are too hard for someone, then he or she should not attempt the game. Anthony also said that since he learned the proverb, he frequently heard it being used especially by male groups like his former fraternity.


I am definitely no stranger to this Proverb. I grew up hearing this proverb being used in similar context as Anthony described. My mother always used it as a way of advising. For example, every time I complained about being heavily tackled in a game. She (my mother) would say; “if you cannot stand the heat, stay out the kitchen.” Basically she meant that if I could not stand being tackled then I should just give up playing the game.

This proverb also appears on one of Tupac Shakur’s records called Life of an outlaw. It was one of the last songs released at the moment when the “West coast vs. East coast” battle hit the top.

In the context of the song, Tupac used the proverb to remind rappers – Notorious BIG in particular – that hip-hop was not an easy game. In essence, he was advising rappers to give up rapping if they could not stand the difficulties in the rap industry. The manner he used the proverb is exactly similar to the way I have always heard it being used.

Annotation: Shakur, Tupac. Life of an outlaw. Shakur, Tupac. Compact Disc. Death Row Records, 1996.