Not all foods need a Sukkah. Most types of food one may eat outside of the Sukkah as well; fruit, vegetables, candy, meat, eggs, fish, most soft drinks, and some others, may be eaten in the house, unless they are part of a meal.
However, there are foods that the Torah considers «respectable,» or special. (Perhaps «formal» is a better word.) A man may eat these foods only in a Sukkah.
- Any product made of the five types of grain: wheat, oat, spelt, barley, and rye.
- Any grape or wine product.
Before eating, we recite the proper blessing on the food, and then we recite a special blessing for eating in a Sukkah:
Boruch Attah Adonoy, Elohainu Melech ha-olam, asher kidishanu b’mitzvotav, v’tsivanu laishaiv basukkah.
(Blessed are You, Hashem our G-d, King of the universe, Who has made us holy through His commandments, and commanded us to live in the Sukkah.)
We do NOT say this Blessing on any other foods, even if we eat them in a Sukkah.
If a man sits down to eat a meal, breakfast, lunch or supper, even if he is not eating anything that requires a Sukkah, he must still eat in the sukkah. However, he does NOT say the Brachah «laishaiv basukkah.» If he’s eating only a snack, then does not need to eat in the Sukkah unless he is eating from the foods that mandate a Sukkah.
To clarify again: if you’re eating a meal, you must eat in the Sukkah.
If you’re eating any of the foods that mandate a Sukkah, whether as a meal or a snack, you must eat in the sukkah and make the Brachah (Blessing).
If you’re eating a snack that does NOT include any of those foods that mandate a Sukkah, then you may eat outside the Sukkah, but it is praiseworthy to eat it in the Sukkah.
So, if you’re sitting at the computer reading this, and you want to munch potato chips, or maybe something healthy like an apple, you do not need to go to the sukkah. You may sit there and eat the potato chips or the apple. Still, it would be paiseworthy if you never ate or drank anything at all outside the sukkah, but the fact is that we are not OBLIGATED to be so praiseworthy!
But if you decide you want to eat supper, and you put on your plate (for example) chicken and potatoes and string beans, you should eat that in the Sukkah, because it’s an actual meal you’re eating. However, none of those foods technically mandate a Sukkah, so you do not say the Blessing of using the Sukkah.
A woman may eat in the house at any time, because she is not required to keep the time-bound Commandments. Since a Sukkah is only required during the eight days of the Holiday of Sukkos, women are exempt.(If you want to understand this concept better, read my wife’s articles on this subject, at Kresel’s Korner.) However, if they choose to eat in a Sukkah, they do get rewarded for it, and they receive holiness as a result as well. They may even make
the blessing, according to Ashkenazi Custom. However, the Sefardi Custom is that women do not say the Blessing for a time-bound Mitzvah that they are not obligated to fulfill.