Sure enough, my first attempt emerged at a jaunty but unsouffle-like angle. ''Uneven rise,'' Chef flatly diagnosed. My second try was a feeble, sticky pancake. ''Overwhisked whites,'' Chef accused, arching a disapproving eyebrow. My next several efforts were all tasty but, in varying degrees, fluffy failures. Chef accompanied our endeavours with a brief recitation of souffle history: The first recipes, which appeared in the early 1800s, weren't chocolate; they weren't even sweet. Most early souffles—the name comes from the French verb souffler, to blow or to whisper—were flavored with pureed meat or game. Dessert versions came later.