A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 16, 2013
“Talk doesn’t cook rice”

"Talk doesn’t cook rice is a Chinese saying that has been printed on American posters; the saying means that talk is cheap and accomplishes little of practical value (compared to cooking rice). “Talk does not cook rice” has been cited in English since at least 1887.


Google Books
September 1885, The Homiletic Review, pg. 264:
“We do not cook rice by babbling.”—CHINESE PROVERB.

Google Books
Proverbs, Maxims and Phrases of All Ages:
Classified Subjectively and Arranged Alphabetically

Compiled by Robert Christy
New York, NY: G. P. Putnam’s Sons
1887
Pg. 334:
26. Talk does not cook rice. Chinese

2 October 1906, Kalamazoo (MI) Gazette, “Proverbs and Phrases,” pg. 4, col. 7:
Talk does not cook rice.—From the Chinese.

17 March 1972, The Evening Independent (Massillon, OH), pg. 17, col. 2:
Old Chinese proverb:
“Talk doesn’t cook rice”

WASHINGTON—An old Chinese proverb says, “Talk doesn’t cook rice.”

Traditional Chinese wisdom also holds that a great talker never wants for enemies; mischief all comes from much opening of the mouth; and one word may be better than hundreds or thousands.

THESE AND dozens of similar Chinese sayings all add up to talk is cheap and button your lip. In spite on many Oriental and Western warnings against loquacity, hundreds and thousands of wods were uttered at the recent Peking summit meeting.

OCLC WorldCat record
Talk does not cook the rice : a commentary on the teaching of Agni Yoga
Author: R H H, Guru.
Publisher: York Beach, Me. : S. Weiser, 1982-1985.
Edition/Format: Book : English

Google Books
What a Piece of Work Is Man!:
Camp’s Unfamiliar Quotations from 2000 B.C. to the Present

By Wesley Douglass Camp
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall
1989, ©1990
Pg. 381:
Talk doesn’t cook rice.
Chinese proverb

Google Books
Random Wisdom
By Russell Gerald Johnston
Bloomington, IN: iUniverse
2009
Pg. 25:
Pay little or no attention to promises of huge orders somewhere out there in the future. This kind of talk is especially cheap and as the ancient Chinese said, “talk doesn’t cook rice.”

China History Forum
chinafoodman
Posted 30 June 2011 - 05:40 AM
I think it is this phrase:
空談燒不出飯菜 kōng tán shāo bù chū fàn cài

More literal translation would be, ‘Empty talk doesn’t produce food.” Not as pity as Talk doesn’t cook rice.

Twitter
Retweets for Writers
‏@Retweets4Writer
Talk doesn’t cook rice. (Chinese Proverb)
9:30 AM - 19 Jul 12

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Thursday, May 16, 2013 • Permalink