Mexican Ambassador to Israel Federico Sallas.
How long have you been Mexico's Ambassador to Israel?
Six-and-a-half years - a couple of weeks before Shimon Peres was elected as president, so we’ve been together here!
How would you describe Mexican-Israeli relations?
Very good. I would say they’re excellent and in the past year or so i think they have reached a very high point with the visit of President Peres to Mexico in November, and we are expecting to host the prime minister [Binyamin Netanyahu] in Mexico some time in the foreseeable future. This speaks very highly of the level of the relationship and the quality of ties between the two countries.
What do you most like about Israel?
Its people - they’re very nice. I like the attitude of the people, it’s friendly and makes one feel welcome. That’s not what you hear from everyone, but my experience has been positive.
What do you least like about Israel?
The lack of parking spots!
What do you miss most about Mexico?
I miss some of the people that are close to me but there are many things here that remind me of Mexico: the weather; I get Mexican food because I have a Mexican cook; and because things are working so well and we’re in contact with Mexico and many Mexicans come to Israel for business or to visit, you feel that even though there is geographic distance, we are still very close to each other.
What do you think Israelis could learn from the Mexicans and vice versa?
We both need to learn to drive better! On the working level, there are many things where we can cooperate on, because even though Israel is very small, our geographies are similar; we both have desert land and similar water problems, so there is a lot of cooperation on these types of issues and we have experiences that we can share with each other.
What has been the highlight of your time in Israel so far?
The visit of the now-president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, at the time when he was governor of Mexico in 2010. He was here for four days, he went around Israel and met with officials, and that helps explain the good level of the relationship because at that time he met with the Israeli president and prime minister and members of the business and academic community have having that personal knowledge certainly helped in making the relationship a fluid one.
Falafel or Burrito what’s your pick?
Falafel - it is more authentic
What do you think of the Mexican food here?
Mexican restaurants here could be better. There is room for improvement, we have to work on that. The best is at my house.
What’s your favorite Mexican food?
Mole - a chocolate based sauce with peppers that you put on meat. Also Chiles en nogada - green pepper stuffed with mince meat and pomegranate, with cream on top - the colors of the Mexican flag. It was originally prepared by nuns, as was Mole. Actually, a lot of Mexican food was developed by nuns in covenants.
Whats your favorite Israeli food?
Hummus. Abu Hassan in Jaffa is my favorite.
With all the sun here, how come sombreros are not more popular in Israel?
Sombreros are actually very hot and not practical, they wouldn’t work here. Also, Israelis love there sun so they would not want to cover it up!
Why do Mexicans love everything spicy?
Because it gives spice to life… and it also helps to water down the tequila.