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.Fresh and dried figs are a rich source of carbohydrates and an excellent source of dietary fiber, iron, calcium and potassium. In fact, 92 percent of the carbohydrates in dried figs are simple sugars such as glucose and fructose, whereas the other 8 percent is insoluble fiber and soluble pectins. Fresh figs are plump, but they quickly become soft as they ripen because the pectin in the cell walls dissolves.