The “farm” side of our region’s farmers markets is going strong in these days of coronavirus. As for the sampling and socializing side? Not so much, as The Inquirer’s Jenn Ladd describes.

Jenn also describes one of the many sobering sides of the crisis: The region’s distilleries have switched from making booze to hand sanitizer. Jenn tells you where you can get it. And while you’re at it, pick up the vodka, rum, gin, and spirits they usually sell.

Also this week, critic Craig LaBan shares the makings of two fine Italian dishes from local chefs.

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Farmers markets are adjusting to social distancing

A board with a list of rules for shoppers at the Headhouse Farmers' Market in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia on Sunday, March 22, 2020. The market is open even after Gov. Tom Wolf called for the closure of all businesses that are not "life-sustaining," due to the spread of the coronavirus.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
A board with a list of rules for shoppers at the Headhouse Farmers' Market in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia on Sunday, March 22, 2020. The market is open even after Gov. Tom Wolf called for the closure of all businesses that are not "life-sustaining," due to the spread of the coronavirus.

Philadelphia’s farmers markets are no longer venues for leisurely post-brunch strolls. Gone are the free tastes of cheese and bread, the gulps of wine and swigs of local cider. And no more picking through produce; many farmers instead pre-weigh their product in an effort to speed shoppers along and minimize touching.

“Just like everything else, [the market has] undergone a pretty dramatic transformation,” one customer told The Inquirer’s Jenn Ladd. "But I think totally appropriate for the time we’re going through.”

Hand sanitizer is proof that there’s good work being done by distillers

Faber Liquors' hand sanitizer, made by Theobald & Oppenheimer in Bucks County.
Faber Liquors' hand sanitizer, made by Theobald & Oppenheimer in Bucks County.

After hand sanitizer evaporated from store shelves and the internet last month, distilleries all over the country started brewing makeshift substitutes with various formulas. Then, as Jenn reports, the federal government stepped in with the World Health Organization’s guidelines, which call for a mix of ethanol, glycerol, and hydrogen peroxide. Small distilleries have been quick to get into the act — at least 12 of them in the Philadelphia area, including New Jersey, are offering them to consumers. Cheers!

Craig LaBan can’t travel, so Philly chefs helped him bring Italy to his kitchen

Craig LaBan's fresh pasta goes into fazzoletti with lamb ragu. The recipe was developed by chef Joe Cicala.
Craig LaBan
Craig LaBan's fresh pasta goes into fazzoletti with lamb ragu. The recipe was developed by chef Joe Cicala.

Good food on its own cannot solve the biggest problems, but it can help us cope. After canceling a family trip to Italy, restaurant critic Craig LaBan cooked Italian pasta as comfort for the lives, restaurants, and plans impacted by the coronavirus shutdown. Craig shares insights into preparing the fazzoletti with lamb ragu that Joe Cicala serves at Cicala at the Divine Lorraine and the spaghetti alle vongole that Michael Vincent Ferrari does at Res Ipsa.

A Mt. Airy group continues to feed each other – from a distance

Feeding each other, at a distance
Cynthia Greer
Feeding each other, at a distance

Anndee Hochman shares the story of a group of friends in Mount Airy who’ve gathered weekly for dinner, through all kinds of life’s up and downs. Though coronavirus has puts a hitch in their weekly gatherings, the spirit of sharing remains.

The pivot to carryout: Where we’re getting food through the window

Chef Richard Cusack and his wife, Christine, in the window of their restaurant June BYOB in South Philadelphia. The menu and approach have changed dramatically.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Chef Richard Cusack and his wife, Christine, in the window of their restaurant June BYOB in South Philadelphia. The menu and approach have changed dramatically.

Inquirer photographers talk to the owners and employees who are serving customers in a new way. Take Rich Cusack, who opened the lovely June BYOB last year on East Passyunk Avenue. It’s not a destination these days. He’s now cooking for the neighborhood, and the food is dispensed through the front window.

How to minimize the risk of catching something from deliveries

Mike Pagliarella (left) hands people their takeout orders at Ricci's Hoagies in Philadelphia.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
Mike Pagliarella (left) hands people their takeout orders at Ricci's Hoagies in Philadelphia.

Can I get infected from the mail? What if the person who makes the food is sick? Could a sick delivery person transfer the virus to me? Good news: The risk is small. As the virus has spread across the globe, newspapers, mail, and food delivery appear to be generally safe. Even better news, writes reporter Jonathan Lai: There are steps you can take to minimize that risk even further.