In addition to a post-summit media bowling party, about 50 Chicago families were lined up to offer foreign journalists a home-cooked meal. "That's a fabulous thing," says Mr. Klingst, "that people who come from abroad would actually have a chance to meet real Americans."
For more real-Americanness NATO could consult the New York Times's David Brooks and Gail Collins, who offered a few salient details about the midwest in a blog conversation last week. Brooks: "One of the reasons I like the Midwest is that it truly is more socially egalitarian than other parts of the country." He also mentioned the cuisine, but was less interested in home-cooking than in fast food. "The place so effectively arouses ironic reflections," wrote Brooks about the noted hamburger chain White Castle.
There's an issue of scale here. From a global perspective Chicago may represent the midwest, but from where Times pundits sit, "real America" is what's actually constituted by the sticks—the rural midwest and/or its less cosmopolitan cities, such as those in which former midwest correspondent A.G. Sulzberger cannot even get a decent seitan Reuben. If the NATO folks are misguided, it wouldn't be the first time.