The tall, striking blond filleted the fish at my table with the precision of a surgeon and the care of a mother. Zelka Lugonjic then sprinkled it with olive oil from a label-less bottle, the sure-fire sign it was made in someone’s nearby backyard.
I was in Galeja, a dark, casual restaurant up a winding, cobblestone alley less than 100 yards from the Adriatic Sea. But this orada, a flavorful white fish similar to swordfish, came from a fish farm, a practice in Croatia going back 1,000 years.
While I’ve always looked at fish farms with just a little less skepticism than stockyards — and fish farms may be creepier — Lugonjic assured me Croatians won’t tolerate anything that’s polluted, and Croatian fish farms ensure that they aren’t.