Originally hailing from southern Europe, Asia and Africa, figs were thought to be sacred by the ancients; they were also an early symbol of peace and prosperity. Figs were brought to North America by the Spanish Franciscan missionaries who came to set up Catholic missions in southern California . . . hence the now-popular Mission fig. There are hundreds of varieties of figs, all having in common a soft flesh with a plenitude of tiny edible seeds. Filling is a food mixture used to fill pastry, sandwiches and some other types of dishes, a process referred to as stuffing.