Cereal and Milk
A reader in Pittsburgh wrote:
If somebody is eating cereal & milk for breakfast, such as corn flakes, and is making the appropriate bracha for the cereal, is there a need to make a bracha of shehakol for the milk also?
After the cereal is finished in the bowl, would he then need to make a bracha of shehakol over the leftover milk? What if he drinks a separate glass of milk with the bowl of cereal?
The general rule is that one makes a bracha on the cereal and this includes, or, in Halachic lingo, "covers" the milk. (It is irrelevant whether the milk physically covers the cereal :-) or vice versa). The reason for this is that the milk is there to enhance the taste of the cereal. Any milk left over in the bowl will not require a separate bracha since it was included in the bracha for the cereal. If one would add more than the normal amount of milk to the cereal, then two brachot are required -- first the bracha for the cereal, and then shehakol for the milk. If in doubt, one should make shehakol on something else (such as coffee).
Similarly, if one wants to drink a separate glass of milk, one would need to say a bracha of shehakol, since it is not "covered" by the bracha on the cereal.
The bracha that is appropriate for corn-flakes is dependent on how the cereal is made. The conventional method is to produce it from flattened corn kernels, and the cereal would therefore require the bracha of ha'adama, but if it is produced from corn flour, then the correct bracha would be shehakol.
A story is told of a Rebbe and a chassid. The chassid asked the Rebbe: "You have an apple, and I have an apple. You make a bracha and eat a slice, and I make a bracha and I eat a slice. After you eat a bit, then your chassidim come running to eat the remainder of your apple (a Chassidic custom known as shirayim); but no one is interested in the remnants of my apple! What's the difference?
The Rebbe smiled warmly and replied, "You make a bracha in order to eat, whereas I eat in order to make a bracha!"
- Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim - 212:1.