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Which blessing is recited on food containing more than one "Halachic food group"?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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Great question. I only wish there was a simple answer...


General note: the following answer only applies to a mixture whose component elements are always eaten together. For example, cereal with milk or a fruit salad which is very finely diced. However, when eating a mixture which contains different types of food which remain distinct, and it is possible that only one of these types of food should appear in any given spoonful, separate Brachot must be recited on each type of food (provided that they require different brachot). Therefore, a fruit salad which contains large pieces of strawberries (Ha'adamah) and apples (Ha'etz) requires two brachot because sometimes one piece is taken and eaten itself. So first take a piece of apple and say the Ha'etz blessing and then recite the Ha'adamah on a strawberry.


However, if a dish was baked or cooked together, then it is considered a single unit of food even if it contains large pieces of different ingredients. With such a dish we recite the blessing on the most "important" ingredient, following the three basic rules which we will soon explain, and this blessing covers the entire dish.
 


Grains are considered to be man's primary sustenance (sorry, Dr. Atkins...), and therefore are almost never considered "secondary" to another food
When a certain food contains different ingredients which require different blessings, a blessing is recited over the primary ingredient, and this blessing covers the entire food. Three rules govern the determination of the primary food in any given food item:


1) If Food B is completely secondary to Food A, and is only there to enhance Food A, then you only need to recite a blessing for Food A.


Two examples:


a) A chocolate covered raisin. The raisin is only there to enhance the chocolate; the person who is noshing wishes to eat chocolate, and certainly wouldn't eat the raisin if it wasn't coated by the chocolate. Therefore only a Shehakol (the brachah for chocolate) is recited before eating a chocolate covered raisin.
b) Slivered olives which are mixed into a potato salad. Here, too, the olives are only there to add taste to the potatoes, so only a Ha'adamah is recited.
There is, however an exception to this rule (what a surprise!), and that is...


2) ...If one of the ingredients requires a mezonot or Hamotzie blessing. These blessings are recited on grains, which are considered to be man's primary sustenance (sorry, Dr. Atkins...), and therefore are almost never considered "secondary" to another food. Therefore, a cheesecake which has a pie-crust is mezonot--although you certainly are eating the cake because of the delicious filling. Sandwiches are all hamotzie, even if you enjoy the cold cuts or tuna more than the rye.1


There are only two instances where mezonot or hamotzie is considered secondary to another ingredient. They are if the mezonot or hamotzie are not added for taste purposes, but rather they are only there: a) for aesthetic purposes, such as to add color. b) To serve as a thickening agent or to add texture (such as flour or breadcrumbs which are added to ground beef).



3) If neither of these conditions applies -- i.e. a food which consists of two components, both of which are primary ingredients, and neither are hamotzie or mezonot -- then "the majority rules." The blessing is recites over the majority ingredient, and the minority ingredient is considered secondary and "nullified."

Footnotes

  • 1. This is true with regards to the blessing recited before eating. There is, however, dispute regarding the after blessing. There is a halachic opinion which maintains that the al hamichya (blessing recited after mezonot) is only recited if there was one 0.9 ounces of actual grains within every 8 ounces of the food consumed. Otherwise, it is suggested to eat another 0.9 ounces of actual mezonot and another 0.9 ounces of another food on which one recites a boray nefashot, and then recite both after blessings.

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Mitzvot » Blessings

Hamotzie
The blessing recited over bread, Challah, or Matzah.
Brachot
(Plural form of "bracha.") Blessings. A Jew is required to recite a bracha before gaining any sort of benefit or pleasure such as eating or drinking (and usually afterwards as well); or before fulfilling a Mitzvah (commandment).