The French exiles then began several decades of an arduous and deadly exodus as they were shipped to the New England Colonies and back to France. Eventually, the word that the exiles were welcome in the French Colony of Louisiana triggered a journey overland from the Colonies and by ship from France to Louisiana. The original 6,000 French have multiplied into 500,000 Cajuns today—as of the 1990 census—and live all over Louisiana with many settled in Baton Rouge.
The name of “Cajun” is a derivative of the French term les Cadiens or les Acadiens. The French term was corrupted over time so the pronunciation of Acadian became A-ca-jun or Cajun. The French settlers found the swamps and bayous of Louisiana to be a rich source of food, furs, and fuel and building materials. Oysters, crawfish, crab, oysters and shrimp became staples of the Cajun diet. The fertile ground yielded bountiful crops of corn, sugar cane and cotton. The prairies of Louisiana appealed to other settlers who turned them under to plant rice and raise cattle. In recent years, the burgeoning oil industry employs many Cajun workers.
Today, Cajuns hold to their Roman Catholic faith. They speak a distinctive dialect of French, English, German, Spanish and various Indian languages. They maintain a number of customs developed over centuries in the wetlands and on the prairies of Louisiana.
Cajun cooking is world renowned for its diversity of food and richness of seasonings.
Baton Rouge is home to some of the best Cajun restaurants in the world.