Use of "le" + infinitive verb in French as collective nouns

I saw a drawing today of a local Francophone association’s set-up for one of their fundraisers (a street fair). There was a booth titled “le boire et le manger” (the drinks and the eats), which looked to pretty much be a concession stand.

Is this construction pretty adaptable in French? What I mean by that is, can you, for the nonce, slap “le” in front of most any infinitive verb and end up with something that makes sense? Can “le venoir et le aller” refer to what in English would be “the comings and goings (of someone)”? In translating an article about Mardi Gras in New Orleans, can the cups, toys, and beads thrown from floats – known collective as “throws” – be translated as the singular noun “le jeter”?

Not really, but there are a few other examples of nouns that are constructed from infinitives. You mention “le boire” and “le manger”, I could add expressions like “mon bon vouloir” (I can’t find an exact translation of this expression, I don’t think “my good will” quite works) or “le savoir” (the knowledge). But those are not general examples, they are specific examples of nouns that happen to have started as verbs.

“To come” would be “venir” in French. And “the comings and goings” would be “les allées et venues” in French.

I don’t think so, and I have no idea what the French word for this would be. “Les jetées” perhaps?

If you look it up in a dictionary, you’ll notice that words like “manger”, “boire”, “vouloir”, or “savoir” are listed as both verbs and nouns. These are special cases, and you cannot extend it to a general rule.

For Mardi Gras “throws”, I would avoid a simple litteral translation. Since even in English “throws” is a term specific to NO Mardi Gras, I would leave it as is. This author seems to agree, as he uses the word as is within quotations.

I guess you’re right that they are specific exceptions, but there are quite a few of them, franc-parler, devenir, paraître, such that the construction can also be extended to some more ambiguous cases. I wouldn’t recommend it though, unless you’re a poet or a comedian.

You can add le lancer du disque, du javelot (discus or javelin throwing), le lancer du poids (putting the shot), *le lancer *(baseball pitch), and *pêche au lancer *(casting)

You can even have two hyphenated infinitive verbs constructed as a noun, such as le savoir-vivre (good manners, literally “know to live”), le laisser-aller (carelessness, literally “let go”) or un faire-valoir (a person that gives another one “value” by letting him take the front stage, literally “to make worth”).

In the case mentioned in the OP, le boire et le manger, it might be mentioned that the expression means “the act of drinking and eating”. But boire and manger, separately, can also be used as nouns to designate “something to drink” and “food” (though these forms are used rather pleasantly).

As for Mardi Gras throws, jovan is right. It can’t be rendered in a single word in French anyway.